“One can see from space how the human race has changed the Earth…human demands and expectations are ever-increasing. We cannot continue to pollute the atmosphere, poison the ocean, and exhaust the land. There isn’t any more available.”
~Stephen Hawking, Physicist
In a 21st century world where technology is rapidly advancing, the impact it can have on the environment is substantial and undeniable. The effects of climate change, pollution, and deforestation have yet to be fully experienced, but one thing is for certain, they will not be impacted positively or negatively without technology having its say. The good news is that with the advent of modern-day high-speed computing, developments in optimization/automation, and the development of GIS systems, the harmful effects of 150 years of industrialization could not only become a thing of the past, but the long-term livelihood of the planet’s most precious ecosystems and resources may have a longer future thanks to technology.
Technological Innovation, Past & Present
Technology has always been at the forefront of shaping our environment. From Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin to the relatively new concept of vertical farming, the question of whether technology has a significant impact on the environment at this point is unassailable. The real question is how do we use it? Much of technological innovation is at the behest of humans and therefore the impact is driven primarily by our needs. As our needs change and the desire to reduce the carbon footprint grows, IT will have a prominent place in the future of our planet.
Negating Negative Impacts
One of the fundamental impacts that we as the users of technology can have is to take stock of the status of technology and computing have on the physical environment. For example, large processing facilities have always been a key driver in clearing land, constructing buildings, and the usage of energy. However, information technology companies constructing server farms and large corporate facilities have been more forward-thinking than their previously industrial counterparts. Many tech companies have made considerable pledges to becoming either Carbon Neutral or Net Zero over the next twenty years demonstrating a commitment to environmental considerations (albeit indirectly) by instituting best practices through sustainability in technology.
Taking the Offensive at the Forefront
Though the focus of some major software companies isn’t necessarily environmental impact, many IT companies have built renewable technologies not only into their products but into the way they manufacture their products. Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, one of the largest buildings in the world, incorporated not only into the design but its production, renewable sources of energy, even achieving net-zero emissions, a feat of modern-day engineering.
The advent of “Cleantech” companies is a new concept, but not one worth underestimating. A growing field, cleantech seeks ways to turn traditional industries into lessening their impact on the environmental landscape. The newly dubbed “Green IT” field is one with the goal of reducing the detrimental impacts of IT on the planet by operating, manufacturing, and designing products and computer-related products in a way commensurate with environmentally responsible practices. Additionally, the promotion of Energy Star technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better energy efficiency are great examples of everyday practices being implemented by IT hardware manufacturers to reduce the need for electrical capacity.
The future, and how you can do your part
For the first time in history, the collective community of the Earth has a clear direction on the long-lasting and often irreversible negative impacts things like pollution and carbon emissions can have. Governments and companies alike around the world are seeking new and alternative ways to ensure the Earth and its inhabitants are here for the long term. Information technology is at the forefront of this effort, through critical infrastructure, engineering, and the monitoring of changing climate innovations.
You can do your part by seeking to implement best practices that reduce energy consumption and usage in your IT infrastructure. On the micro-level, entertaining sustainable technology that you can incorporate into your company or organization is the best way to do your part. Change starts on the ground level, and there’s no better way to have a positive impact by including best sustainability practices that can serve the global community. In the long term, maybe set a long-term goal for your company of being carbon neutral in the future. For today, maybe it’s time to ditch that CRT monitor from 1997 and upgrade to an LCD.
Contact us to discuss more ways to keep your business green!