Schools must aim for digital sobriety

Journalist Michael Le Page, writing for www.newscientist.com, reports that the digital technology we use is harming the planet.
Says Le Page, “Our tech addiction is cooking the planet. The manufacture and use of smartphones, computers and TVs will produce four per cent oF global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and eight per cent by 2025”.
That is the conclusion of a report entitled Lean ICT: Towards Digital Sobriety, released in February this year by 12 experts in the field.
The report was commissioned by
the Shift Project, a Paris-based think-
tank on energy transition. One of the
report authors, Maxime Efoui-Hess,
says that a more sustainable approach
would be, for example, for
businessmen and women to connect
via video conferencing instead of flying to meetings. However, across the globe, those dedicated to deals and dollars are lackadaisical about creating a clean digital global footprint.
Says Maxime Efoui-Hess, “The ‘good effects’ of digital technologies, in terms of energy consumption and associated
greenhouse gas emissions, are constantly neutralised at global scale by the fact that we use these technologies without thinking about the right way to do it”.
Efouis-Hess and his co-authors advise that governments and civil society aim for a “digital sobriety” approach. Policies should be put in place that regulate how often consumers replace so-called “smart” devices. In many parts of the world, teenagers in particular, update their mobile phones every year. “Artificial intelligence is extremely energy- intensive,” says Efoui-Hess.
The report authors include “data centres that store and supply internet content, along with the equipment needed to access it, from phones to Wi-Fi routers,” as potentially hazardous digital technologies. It is more difficult, they say, to measure the use and impact of digital equipment in cars and factories and TVs and related hardware.

Category: Winter 2019

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