How is digital technology affecting the environment and what can be done to improve this?

How is digital technology affecting the environment and what can be done to improve this?

We live our lives online. From the way we do our jobs to the way we organise our family life, our everyday is becoming increasingly digital. In fac

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We live our lives online. From the way we do our jobs to the way we organise our family life, our everyday is becoming increasingly digital.

In fact, we walk around with our digital lives in our pocket. The number of smartphone mobile network subscriptions worldwide reached almost 6.4 billion in 2022, and is forecast to exceed 7.7 billion by 2028.

Add to this, the use of AI and IoT devices in everything from our homes to school and workplace settings, it’s clear that we’re surrounded by online tech.

But the impact of technology on the environment often goes unnoticed. The truth is that digital technology is a major contributor to environmental degradation. So, how is this tech affecting the environment? What are the strategies to ease its negative effects?

How does digital technology impact the environment?

The most significant environmental concern associated with digital technology is its massive energy consumption. Digital tech is used on a global scale and consumes vast amounts of electricity, primarily sourced from fossil fuels.

Digital activity is responsible for approximately 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This startling statistic highlights the urgency of addressing the environmental impact of our digital habits.

Data centres

One major contributor to digital technology’s energy consumption is data centres. These facilities store and process colossal amounts of data, and their energy consumption is a major culprit in the unsustainable use of energy.

A striking example of this is cryptocurrency mining farms, and there skilled experts who can advise on these. These farms are estimated to consume more energy per year than some entire countries. However, there are emerging examples of sustainable cryptocurrency incentives aimed at offsetting or achieving carbon neutrality. These initiatives, such as using renewable energy for mining operations, represent a step in the right direction.

 

E-waste

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is another concern tied to the production and disposal of digital and electronic devices. E-waste includes discarded smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets that contain valuable and limited resources like rare metals and minerals.

The improper disposal of e-waste leads to pollution and a squandering of precious materials. It is crucial to develop recycling programs and encourage responsible disposal to address this issue.

How to reduce this impact?

To minimise the environmental impact of digital technology, consumers can make conscious choices. Opt for companies that actively offset their digital emissions through initiatives like tree planting or renewable energy adoption. Reduce unnecessary digital consumption by consciously limiting screen time and digital device usage. Additionally, choose energy-efficient devices for digital tasks to lower electricity consumption.

Renewable energy

One of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of digital technology is to transition to renewable energy sources. Installing solar panels at home or in the workplace can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with digital activities. By harnessing the power of the sun or other renewable sources, individuals and organisations can make a substantial contribution to mitigating the environmental consequences of digital technology.

It’s worth taking the time to become aware of how your digital footprint affects the environment.

 

 

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