Information technology and pollution

We are reminded of the instantaneous smokeless factories of air pollution caused by enterprises. We know that the machines used to make various materials, the vehicles that carry them, burn fuel.

The total amount of carbon dioxide that any person or entity, such as a building, organization, or country, produces as a result of its activities is called a ‘carbon footprint’ of that person or entity. Calculations suggest that about 3 kg of carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere by ourselves if we fly from Bangalore to Delhi. That’s our carbon footprint for travel.

It is easy to understand that carbon dioxide is produced by our travel, be it aircraft or auto. The products we carry on the go also add some carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

There was news that was not easy to understand. The news is that Microsoft has announced that it will be ‘carbon-negative’. The announcement is that by that time, it will remove more of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it adds to the atmosphere. If only carbon dioxide was added, it would have been ‘carbon neutral’. There is more to being negative than being neutral.

Information technology has made it possible to bring all physical things to digital form and keep all of our work seated. Why is air pollution worrisome to the forerunner of this field? No smoke comes from our computer when typing and saving files, emailing it to a friend!

This is not as easy as it may seem. Any activity can cause carbon dioxide production and air pollution, not only in its place but also elsewhere.

How is that? Here’s an example of typing an email. Assuming we use computers for this purpose, it needs electricity to work. To be able to send email requires an internet connection, which requires power to work. The email we send is not just a short distance before it reaches our friends, but at every stage of that journey – the power consumption is inevitable on every machine that stays that message. Data centers, which save email messages for us and our friends as soon as we need them, have a huge power supply. Let the work be done, it will require a great deal of electricity to keep the machines cool!

Where does all the electricity come from? Coming from a coal-fired plant, it is adding enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The diesel generator, which takes care of the mobile internet through our tower, generates electricity as well as carbon dioxide even when the power cut.

All of these may sound small as separate examples, but when you look at all the work that is taking place in the information technology world, we see how big the carbon footprint of this field is. From the hundreds of buses that run the IT company’s workforce in Bangalore, to a mobile video showing a YouTube video in a remote village, everything makes this step even bigger.

This is also known in the information technology industry. This comes in the wake of Microsoft’s announcement that Carbon will be neutral by 3, with Microsoft becoming carbon negative.

It is good to be aware. But how do you reduce all the pollution and extract the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere?

Many programs around the world are trying to find the answer to this question. The scope of such programs has expanded, from growing trees to absorbing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and developing new technologies. It does not take long for the trees to grow and reach their full potential, and until then, the discovery of new technologies that help extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has already begun.

Renewable resources such as solar power and wind power are being promoted more often than fossil fuels like coal. Environmental conservation organizations are pressing for technology companies to use cleaner fuels as well.

Moreover, efforts are being made to reduce the amount of power they use by making IT-software software more efficient. Firms are trying to reduce power consumption even in datacenters that use electricity enormously. Attempts have been made to reduce pollution and reduce the carbon footprint of activities such as employee travel, office management – which may seem superfluous. The work from home practice, which has grown widely as a result of the lockdown, is also contributing to this.

In addition, it is necessary for us, as users, to keep track of our activities and reduce our carbon footprint. We have to ask ourselves what we can do to make it possible.

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