Navigation Links
Green IT not helping climate change

Richard Hawkins, Canada Research Chair in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, says there is no evidence that information technologies necessarily reduce our environmental footprint. His research will provide input into the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) initiative on IT and sustainability at the United Nations' Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark later this year.

"It was once assumed that there was little or no material dimension to information technology, thus, it should be clean with minimal environmental impact," says Hawkins who is also a professor in the U of C's Faculty of Communication and Culture. "However, we are finding that reality is much more complicated."

Firstly, Hawkins notes that digital technologies require a lot of energy to manufacture and eventually they create a huge pile of 'electronic junk', much of it highly toxic. They also use a lot of energy to run. Some estimates are that they use up roughly the same amount of energy as the world's air transport system.

Far from denying these environmental implications, Hawkins points out that many IT producers are gearing up to produce 'greener IT', using the environmental footprint as a marketing tool. "But probably most of the negative environmental impacts occur in the form of completely unintended, second and third order effects," he says. "These 'rebound' effects may not be mitigated by inventing 'greener' IT products and, indeed, may be intensified by such changes."

Rebounds occur when the use of IT contributes to or reinforces an increase in other activities that already have environmental effects.

"For example, technologies such as cell phones actually help us to become hyper-mobile," he says. "We didn't adopt the mobile phone so we could drive and talk on the phone, we adopted it because we were already driving so much. Creating a greener cell phone won't reduce the impact of increased mobility. The real question is what amount of mobility is sustainable?"

Hawkins says the problem is not that IT is inherently more or less green than other technologies. The problem is that it has been applied so extensively that its environmental implications positive as well as negative are often overlooked. Hawkins and his research team are establishing a more reliable basis for identifying and assessing the contribution of IT to our environmental footprint. They will present their findings at the upcoming European Communications Policy Research Conference in Seville, Spain on March 29 and at the UN's COP 15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18, 2009.


Contact: Jennifer Myers
University of Calgary

Related biology news :

1. Detecting disease in greenhouse plants
2. Green plastics could help reduce carbon footprint
3. Trailblazing rural community shows green heating oil a viable option
4. Biggest ever public investment in bioenergy to help provide clean, green and sustainable fuels
5. Termite insecticide a potent greenhouse gas
6. Landmark national study reveals significance of green practices in attractions industry
7. Green chemicals closer to market
8. Tips for making a green holiday from the worlds largest scientific society
9. Oil spray reduces greenhouse gas emissions from pig finishing barns
10. Men are red, women are green, Brown researcher finds
11. Rooted plants move mysteriously down greenways, scientists say
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... clinical research, is pleased to announce that it has ... as one of only three finalists for a ... and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota ... technology innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ eClinical ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... -- Daon, a global leader in mobile biometric authentication ... version of its IdentityX Platform , IdentityX v4.0. ... have already installed IdentityX v4.0 and are seeing ... UAF certified server component as an option and ... These customers include some of the largest and most ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. ... of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long ... even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners ... delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: OREX ) today ... discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th Annual Healthcare Conference ... is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, at 8:00 a.m. ... will be available for 14 days after the event.  ... Corporate Communications and Business Development , BrewLife(858) 875-8629 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... executives will be speaking at the following conference, and ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ...      Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms ... there are no corporate developments that would cause the ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty ...
Breaking Biology Technology: