BBC: "Ditch new tech to fight climate change"

BBC: "Ditch new tech to fight climate change"

BBC article

The BBC have published an article outlining how digital technology is affecting the environment. They suggest a few changes that we can make personally which can help reduce our carbon emissions.

It is estimated that 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions are accounted for by the carbon footprint of electronic gadgets, the internet and systems that support these areas. A researcher at Lancaster University, Mike Hazas, explains that this is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry.

PCs and their effect on the environment

A report was produced by the University of Edinburgh in 2016 which shows that the carbon emissions produced in the manufacture of PCs amounted to 262kgCO2. The use of PCs produces 176kgCO2. These two areas make up the most emissions of carbon produced through the entire lifecycle of a PC. The entire lifecycle of a PC produced 523kgCO2, so the manufacture and use of a PC produced 438kgCO2 of carbon emissions. The rest is created from the shipping and disposal.

How can we reduce our carbon emissions?

The BBC suggest a few small changes that we can make to help reduce the amount of emissions we produce. We are going to focus specifically on PCs here. These include:

  • Unplugging when not in use. Putting your PC on power-down does save almost as much energy as completely switching off the device. However, that little trickle of energy can add up quickly.

  • Upgrading equipment less often. As consumers, when something goes wrong with our products, we find it easy to simply throw it away, and replace it with a new one. However, the greenhouse gases emitted in the manufacture of new devices makes up a considerable portion of the emissions released during the devices’ full lifetime. The University of Edinburgh conducted a study which found that by extending the life of your electronic devices, you could avoid the equivalent of 190kg of carbon emissions. You could do this by using your PC for an extra 2 years. A simple way of doing this would be to upgrade individual components to extend the life of your PC rather than upgrading the full system.

As the title of the BBC article suggests, we should ditch the new tech and instead buy refurbished. Buying refurbished tech allows you to get the same quality device, at a lower price, and without harming the environment. You are helping to reduce the need to manufacture new goods, and at the same time, you are stopping used products from going to landfill.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many ways that we can use advancements in technology to help reduce our carbon footprint. However, we also need to understand that the digital devices we use also have a negative impact on the environment; with most carbon emissions coming from the manufacture of such devices. We need to use this knowledge to change our behaviour towards purchasing, for example buying refurbished rather than brand new. By doing this, we can use technology in the right way to reduce the amount of energy used and have a more positive impact on our environment.