The internet – costing or saving the planet?


This article… 

Schwarzenegger’s ebook plans are not a greener option

California’s plans to drop traditional textbooks in favour of online material will no doubt spare a few trees – but Arnie should be choosing the greenest option by rolling out dedicated e-reader devices at the same time, says Duncan Graham-Rowe

via Schwarzenegger’s ebook plans are not a greener option | Duncan Graham-Rowe | Environment | .

…plus a conversation with colleagues at coffee this morning has me thinking. If the Guardian article’s references are to be believed, I can deliver you a whole range of statistical snippets. Did you know that:

  • the pulping industry is the third largest consumer of fossil fuels;
  • it takes 10 litres of water to make one A4 piece of paper;
  • in the US alone, half a million trees are felled every week just for Sunday newspapers; 
  • reading an online newspaper for 30 minutes a day produces more emissions than reading a paper version;
  • the reverse is true if you read them for just 10 minutes;
  • Amazon’s Kindle DX uses electronic-paper displays which use hardly any energy to maintain an image (or text) on a screen.

I’d like to know how my team can quantify it’s output. We work hard, and produce, hopefully, some good web developments.

But the team uses energy to do the development work, and then the developed systems sit on servers consuming energy, and are delivered (over a network which consumes electricity) to users on PCs which also consume energy.  

Again, I wonder, can we work in IT in a Hannover Principles (PDF) kind of way? Anyone doing this? 

For those not in the know, The Hannover Principles (Design for Sustainability) are:

  1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist
  2. Recognize interdependence.
  3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter.
  4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design.
  5. Create safe objects of long-term value.
  6. Eliminate the concept of waste.
  7. Rely on natural energy flows.
  8. Understand the limitations of design.
  9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. 

Some sound airy-fairy, but check the detail. Can you argue with number 6, or 4, or 9?

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