E-waste, and not energy conservation, is what really matters
By David Moschella
When it comes to environmental sustainability, the information technology community has seriously mistaken its priorities. Our latest research has confirmed what we have been saying for four years. The IT industry is already energy-neutral in terms of its consumption and savings, but there is still no credible scenario for safely managing the global production and disposal of literally billions of personal computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Yet even today, improving the energy efficiency of IT equipment is still the overwhelming focus of the Green IT community.
While energy efficiency is recommended business hygiene, the total energy consumption of IT hardware is not a serious societal problem. Most estimates suggest that all of the world’s data centers, PCs and networks consume between 1.5% and 3% of the world’s energy. While precise measurements are always difficult, does anyone seriously doubt that the IT-enabled energy savings stemming from e-commerce, telecommuting, teleconferencing, digital newspapers, virtual offices, smart buildings, smart products, etc. aren’t enough to offset this?