“We don’t sufficiently anticipate the digital end”

Digital is not always compatible with sustainable development.

The challenge of sustainable development is to stay within the limits of natural resource depletion. Digital accounts for around 4% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Europe. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you put yourself in the magnitude of a…

Digital is not always compatible with sustainable development.

The challenge of sustainable development is to stay within the limits of natural resource depletion. Digital accounts for around 4% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Europe. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you project yourself onto a European’s scale, We exceed 40% of our sustainable annual budget.

We shouldn’t exceed 819 kg of CO2 equivalent per year to avoid triggering global warming, but the only digital-related annual emissions from a French person are 253 kg (31%), the European average is 361 kg (44%).

But the environmental impact isn’t just greenhouse gases?

After a study by Ademe, 52% of the digital footprint in France comes from the depletion of abiotic resources, 28% from ionizing radiation and 11% from greenhouse gases. That means more than half is related to materiality. So the extraction and use of resources, the elements (minerals, metals, etc.) and the fossil (oil).


Frederick Bordage.

FB

“We face a problem of depletion of the resources we use to make these devices.”

Does this mean that production has a greater impact on the environment than use?

Yes. Manufacturing is the phase with the largest footprint with extraction, the production of raw materials and the bulk of waste generated. The dirtiest thing is the TV. Almost a tonne of CO2 equivalent is required for production. If you bought a TV, you’ve already spent your annual greenhouse gas package. To craft a 58-inch substation, you need to extract 38 tons of soil and put 2.13 tons of materials into the crafting process.

On average, every French person over the age of 15 owns 15 digital objects, clocks, refrigerators or connected stoves… We are faced with the problem of depleting the resources from which we make these devices. There are 30 to 40 metals in a smartphone. In thirty or sixty years we won’t be able to make them anymore, that’s supposed to be glued to the ceiling! We are totally dependent on our machines, but we will no longer have the material to make them. We anticipate the end of the digital too little.

“If you’ve bought a TV, you’ve already spent your annual greenhouse gas package”

The mines are being reseeded, the dense veins are being depleted and the mining conditions are becoming unacceptable.


The mines are being reseeded, the dense veins are being depleted and the mining conditions are becoming unacceptable.

Martina/Pixabay

Are the mines running out?

Given our needs, we should triple the number. We have exhausted the dense veins. We spread mercury and other elements over square kilometers to agglomerate gold flakes. The mines have become horizontal!

Your report refers to the concept of the “life cycle” of devices.

In order to measure the impact as accurately as possible, four phases must be considered: manufacture, transport, use and end of life (recycling or disposal in landfill). France pioneered incineration, which produces toxic fumes.

The annual production of digital waste is equivalent to the weight of 1.87 billion people. Recycling is cheapest.

The solution is sobriety?

This is the most effective method in the short term. Without being anti-tech, you have to make good use of digital technology that delivers exceptional performance.

Going back to the TV example, the larger the screen, the greater the environmental impact. Between 2010 and 2025, the number of screens will double and their size will double. Watch a movie on a tablet rather than a TV, on a smartphone rather than a tablet. It’s really the user terminals that concentrate most of the impact. In addition, it was found that LED technology is twenty times more efficient than LCD flat screens.

In the case of music, it would be necessary to prefer an audio stream to a video: a student who does not have a circle prefers YouTube because, unlike Deezer or Spotify, it is free.

And the electricity?

In Europe, the electricity consumption for digital services during the use phase accounts for 9.3% of the total consumption. That’s the equivalent of over 32 million 1000W heaters running continuously for a year. It’s an order of magnitude that needs to be put into perspective, it’s not the same for Quebec and its dams as China or Australia – coal – or France with nuclear power. For us, the electricity consumed digitally accounts for 3% of the final energy.

A smartphone contains 40 to 60 metals, the minerals of which are depleted and the extraction of which has a strong impact on the environment.


A smartphone contains 40 to 60 metals, the minerals of which are depleted and the extraction of which has a strong impact on the environment.

pixabay

On the same subject


Energy sobriety: a plan to serve as a compass

Energy sobriety: a plan to serve as a compass

This Thursday, October 6th, the government presented a comprehensive energy sobriety plan combining government action and voluntary commitments by economic actors and civil society. The goal: -10% consumption by 2024

Dematerialization is accelerating and more and more data is being stored in the clouds. Is it a concern?

The amount of stored data explodes, it’s annoying but not bad. We can fix it. For example, if we have a 15 gigabyte webmail, we could leave two of them for free and charge for the rest. We know the mechanisms, it would be enough to pass laws.

Storage is the cheapest. The hardest part is crafting the terminals that show what’s being stored. And our use. We dematerialize the label of a baguette for free, does that make sense? That of a vehicle, yes, of course. If it remains in a database and is not displayed, the effect is limited. Some countries have defined limits below which we no longer save.

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