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How Green is the e-Universe?

Ever make a movie? I’m making one. Not a feature film, just a 15-minuter. I’m doing a video version of my story “Jump” published by Premonitions a couple of years ago. Premonitions is a sf/horror digest published by Pigasus Press in the UK.

Since I already owned the software (Final Cut) and a prosumer camera (the standard GL-2 those on a budget use), the first piece of tech I had to get was a storage device—a new hard drive. If you’ve ever made a movie, you know you can’t do it without a lot of space for storage of footage, sound files, endless edited versions and of course mp3s. I picked up a LaCie for the job.

There wouldn’t be much of a blog post if that was all there was to it, and there is so much more to the story. And it all comes to light in the product manual.

In addition to the never ending pages of safety information to wade through before you can figure out how to turn the thing on, LaCie included never ending pages of green information to wade through. LaCie, apparently, is very eco-friendly. Like those new-fangling resorts in the Amazon where you sleep with the howler monkeys. It’s only a little 1.5 by 4 by 6 inch box for chrissake, you are thinking. How hard can it be to be eco-friendly?

That’s what I was thinking when I encountered this in the never ending green information:

“More and more of our products are assembled locally (for the United States in Portland, Oregon, and in Paris for Europe.) By doing this, we’ve achieved a huge decrease in CO2 production on a yearly basis. We also ship our parts from Asia instead of flying them in. Shipping 1 kilogram of cargo by plane results in 4.8 kilograms of CO2 whereas boat transport produces merely 0.06 kilos. That is 80 times less CO2 produced, or around 5,000,000 trees saved! We don’t stop there, though — in the US we already recycle up to 95% of the waste created by our products and production.”

That alone wins the heart and mind of me. But that’s not all. LaCie goes on on about the European Union’s RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive, smart network storage, and how the LaCie goes to sleep when not in use so as to save on energy. This is a very environmentally-minded company. Which makes sense, they are in Portland, Oregon, after all.

All that effort for a little electronic box may seem like overkill, but it gets me thinking. I’ve always considered the digital world to be green. Isn’t that one of its selling points? We’re ushering in the paperless office. Imagine the environmental advantages of electronic storage. It’s so efficient. A terabyte of storage takes up about the same amount of space as a kilobyte in the consumers’, i.e., my mind. Compare that to paper storage where two pages of words requires twice as much space as one page.

Since no trees are used in Internet storage, our carbon footprint must be decreasing in size.

Apparently, as usual, there is more to it. And worse: now it’s insidious and we have less control on an individual basis.

Remember that blog post flying around a few weeks ago about the amount of heat in the warehouses where Google keeps their servers? And the electricity they are using? There’s a lot of energy needed to keep all that data moving. To say nothing of what’s needed to keep it in a cool environment. That energy need is invisible to us, we never consider it.

You intelligently counter that much more energy would be used if we had to get in our cars and drive to a library to get the same amount of information. Good point, but you and I both know that if gaining knowledge required a trip to the library, we’d all remain in the dark. That’s the way it is: we are lazy. Only because we’re getting knowledge piped into our homes are we actually seeking answers. We don’t mind doing research but only if we can do it from the comfort of our own Barcaloungers.

Pound for pound, our activities may not be as energy consumptive as before, but I’ll bet we’re doing a lot more of it. Hence companies such as LaCie, ruled by the transfer of electrons as they are, need to green up or shut up. It’s not just Fedders and Maytag that need to include energy star ratings on their boxes.

The laws of physics do not sit in judgment. For life to live, it must consume things. That doesn’t make life a bad person. But the laws of physics are relentless. If the balance gets whacked the scales will get righted one way or another. I don’t worry about this, mostly because I can’t. I do my best…I use no more than I have to…I use cold water in the rinse cycle…etc.

Mostly I try to support those that are trying to make a difference. Does buying a LaCie make me feel like I’m doing my part? Not necessarily. I did zero research on the product; just bought the first thing recommended on some forum I came across. I will consider this aspect of a product’s spin in the future, though.

Will it make a difference? Not if I’m the only one doing this. Will it make a difference if everyone does? Perhaps. I know one thing, it will definitely make a difference if no one does it. And that difference will not be pretty.

Sue Lange



2 thoughts on “How Green is the e-Universe?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Green is the e-Universe? « Singularity Watch -- Topsy.com

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