Article by Rajeshwar Bachu, founder of Zero-Carbon
The development of green technology, together with its capacity to improve systems' efficiency and lessen the effects of climate change, is crucial to the future of the IT sector.
IT firms are making significant investments in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning, and data analytics to improve global systems and lessen our dependency on carbon-based energy sources. They are also focused on creating tools, such as predictive analytics for weather forecasting, risk assessment, and catastrophe planning, to assist people in adapting to the consequences of climate change. IT firms are also searching for methods like blockchain and the Internet of Things to develop sustainable energy sources and lower energy prices.
As the world's reliance on technology grows, IT businesses will continue to be crucial in limiting the effects of climate change.
Although just a little amount of energy is required for a single internet search or email, the internet is presently used by 4.1 billion people, or 53.6% of the world's population. These energy slivers and the related greenhouse gas emissions from each online activity can mount up. Some estimates place the carbon footprint of our electronic devices, the internet, and the infrastructure that supports them at 3.7% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University, adds that it is comparable to the volume produced by the aviation sector globally. By 2025, it is expected that these emissions would have doubled. If we were to split the 1.7 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions that are thought to be created in the production and use of digital technology among all internet users worldwide, it would come out to 414 kilograms of carbon dioxide per person each year.
IT industry may be contributing to the climate change directly or indirectly
Large amounts of energy, mainly from non-renewable sources like coal and natural gas, are needed to produce IT devices and the parts that go into them. Carbon dioxide and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere during the combustion of these sources. Additionally, these gadgets need a lot of energy during operation, increasing emissions.
Digitalization indirectly causes climate change by increasing the output of goods and services. For instance, digital businesses frequently need to ship and move significant quantities of commodities around the globe, which increases carbon footprints. Additionally, a lot of raw materials are needed for the manufacturing of IT systems and components. These resources might be obtained through ecologically harmful activities like mining and deforestation.
How the IT sector is causing a rise in carbon emissions
The IT sector oversees a sizable portion of the world's carbon emissions. This is because computers and other digital gadgets need a lot of energy to operate, in addition to the energy required to produce and ship these items. Due to their high energy usage, data centers, which are enormous buildings that contain computer equipment, may produce a lot of pollutants. Additionally, the manufacture and disposal of electronic gadgets may result in the release of dangerous compounds into the environment as well as emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Along with a rise in air conditioning system usage to keep computers and other equipment cool, the expansion of the IT sector has also resulted in an increase in emissions from the shipping of digital goods.
How Businesses may reduce CO2 by selecting the appropriate IT equipment
1. Select energy-efficient IT equipment: When making purchases, businesses should give energy-efficient IT equipment and gadgets priority. This includes desktop computers, laptops, and servers that are energy efficient.
2. Ensure appropriate setup and maintenance: Businesses should guarantee that their IT equipment is set up and maintained in a suitable manner. This entails checking that all devices are linked to power strips that can be switched off when not in use, that all computers are set to enter sleep mode when not in use, and that all equipment is running the most recent software and firmware upgrades.
3. Use virtualization: Businesses should think about adopting virtualization technology, which enables the operation of several virtual computers on a single physical server. As a result, less physical IT equipment may need to be purchased and installed, which would minimize energy use and related CO2 emissions.
4. Invest in renewable energy: To power their IT infrastructure, businesses should think about investing in renewable energy sources. This may entail making investments in the infrastructure for solar cells, wind turbines, or other renewable energy sources. They may lessen their carbon footprint and benefit the environment by doing this.
5. Use the cloud: Businesses should think about using the cloud for their IT requirements. As running physical infrastructure in-house can be more energy-intensive than using the cloud, this may help them spend less energy.
6. Low-Power Computer: Unlike conventional computing systems, low-power computing devices are made to consume less energy. These systems employ processors and other parts that demand less energy and produce less heat, which lowers their energy needs and emissions.
Reducing carbon emissions through technological breakthroughs in the IT sector
1. Promote the use of networking, storage, and server hardware that is more efficient. This might entail adopting high-efficiency power supply, virtualization, and cloud computing, as well as operating idle servers at reduced power levels.
2. Use cloud computing and distributed computing. This might involve using cloud computing for storage and apps or distributed computing for large-scale computing operations like rendering.
3. Optimize the cooling systems in data centers. This can entail employing evaporative cooling, adding variable-speed fans and chillers, and leveraging data center software to better control and monitor cooling systems.
4. Promote the adoption of technology for power management in data centers. To do this, energy-saving methods like power capping, power limiting, and power management may be used.
Overall, digitization has greatly improved efficiency and convenience, but it has had a detrimental effect on the environment. As a result, it's critical to lessen the environmental effects of IT use, such as switching to renewable energy sources, searching for methods to cut energy use, and choosing materials with responsibility.