Global warming is also the responsibility of technology

Global warming is also the responsibility of technology

Companies must reduce their carbon footprint, as do users; In the photo, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, the conglomerate to which Google belongs Credit: AFP

Factories and means of transportation to internal combustion are not the only factors that affect climate change. According to the Lean ICT – Towards Digital Sobriety (2019) report, released by the French study center The Shift Project, our computers, smartphones, smart TVs and other devices generate 4% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission ), this is more than all air transport, whose emissions represent between 2 and 3%, according to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report points out that the videos we watch on the internet generate 1% of the global carbon dioxide emission. "The proliferation of streaming services for series and movies such as Netflix are primarily responsible for energy waste, with 34% of the world's data traffic, followed by pornography (27%) and portals such as YouTube (21%)," he says. the study.

This data is in line with the Clicking Clean report: Who wins the race to create a green Internet ?, conducted by Greenpeace of the United States in 2017. The main conclusions of this document indicate that Apple, Google and Facebook are making some of the biggest Progress towards the use of 100% renewable energy in the sector, while Netflix and Amazon Web Services are lagging behind. Netflix has, according to Greenpeace, one of the largest data traces of all the companies analyzed by the NGO. Consulted by
THE NATION, the provider of series, films and documentaries preferred not to answer "for not having local spokespersons about this issue".

Concrete actions

Faced with this situation, some technology firms are incorporating the use of renewable energy. Among them is Google. In a September publication, Sundar Pichai, CEO of the Alphabet group, record: "We are working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, build products with people and the planet in mind, and drive change through our supply chains". In 2017 and 2018 they equipped their annual electricity consumption with renewable energy, and they have just made the corporate purchase of this largest energy class in history to increase the global portfolio of solar and solar parks by 40%, with the ultimate goal of achieve the available carbon-free energy 24×7 in all its operations.

When asked by
THE NATIONRobert Ivanschitz, legal and corporate director of Microsoft Latin America, who since 2009 have made and complied with a series of commitments to reduce the carbon footprint. "Although we are making progress in our goal of eliminating our operational carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. The magnitude and speed of environmental changes in the world have made it quite clear that we must do more." In this line, the use of renewable energy has increased significantly since 2014.

In addition, they say they support customers in their own carbon reductions, and work to decarbonize industries, including real estate, buildings and factories. "In turn, we extend our reach beyond our clients with our AI for Earth (Artificial Intelligence for Earth) program, which since 2017 accompanies projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model and, in the last instance, they manage the Earth's natural systems, "enumerates Ivanschitz.

But since the Internet and online services are increasingly relevant to society, in the middle of this decade the data centers will continue to grow in number and size, and therefore in electricity consumption. That is why it is necessary for companies to work sustainably to build and operate greener data centers. "To that end, Microsoft signed 16 renewable energy agreements on three continents that are now producing almost 2 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy. We have met several objectives to increase the amount of electricity used by our data centers from energy sources renewable, and we will reach the milestone of 60% by the end of 2019, with the aim of exceeding 70% by 2023, and continue improving in the direction of achieving 100%, "said the executive in November.

Users and governments

Beyond the issues of corporate ndole, from The Shift Project they ask for sobriety in the consumption by the users and regulations that avoid the waste of energy. Without naming any specific measure, the problem of automatic reproduction of videos and advertisements appears several times in your report. They also refer to the energetic waste that is the high definition of videos, being that it is not an essential feature to enjoy these multimedia content.

The problem is that an important part of the technology business model revolves around the advertising generated by these videos. All this, not counting the issue of programmed obsolescence, which has to do with the fact that manufacturers constantly launch new models, encouraging users to renew their equipment and thus generating more electronic scrap.

Since the economic progress of some companies seems to be incompatible with the care of the planet, there are those who postulate that governments should take action on the matter. Meanwhile, and thinking about the grain of sand that we can provide home users, the NGO The Green Web Foundation has a number of tools, such as browser extensions, that allow the user to see if the sites they visit are hosted on servers They use renewable energy.

If the internet were a country, it will be the sixth in electricity consumption, according to the Greenpeace report, so it is essential to mitigate climate change that technology firms commit long-term to use renewable energy, and that users Let us keep in mind that the use of digital tools is not harmless to the Earth.

Faced with this situation, Elizabeth Jardim, Senior Corporate Campaigner of Greenpeace USA, explained
THE NATION: "We need the internet to work with renewable energy. So, when we transmit data, click or share information, carbon emissions do not increase as a result of the use of dirty energy. In this context, technology companies, many of which they have committed to renewable energy, they need to track and feed their data centers with real renewable energy, while eliminating the consumption of fossil fuels.This objective should also be extended to their supply chains, so that the devices are manufactured with renewable energy, instead of carbon (as is the case with much of the manufacturing that occurs in China). "

Technology firms must face environmental challenges as difficult as they are, while users should be more aware of the environmental impacts of our digital habits, since time to act is limited, resources are scarce and the impact is Too big to sit and wait.