Wunderman Thompson Intelligence highlighted digital sustainability as a trend. The internet is the seventh biggest polluter in the world. Data centres energy consumption is comparable to that of the largest ships.
Web designers have been looking to do their part by designing leaner, faster web pages that take up less memory.
Samsung is looking at up cycling its smartphones providing longevity rather than built-in obsolescence.
Ecosia, Bing and DuckDuckGo sell themselves as a more eco-friendly search engine. Due to the level of ad targeting technology, a Google search uses four times as much energy per search.
Cryptocurrency mining consumes more energy than Argentina and is increasing. That doesn’t take into account the maintenance of a blockchain: the distributed database to support each cryptocurrency transaction.
Performance per watt
Digital sustainability isn’t necessarily a new idea. A veteran Apple user would remember the launch of Intel processors on the Mac at the 2005 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Jobs talks about the company’s focus on performance per watt as a key reason for the transition. Intel was thinking about processors for workstations and mobile computers, while the Power PC was being refocused on its minicomputer heartland and embedded applications.
The problem is that a lot of Apples current product designs from AirPods to MacBook Pros make up cycling all but impossible. Apple does have some interesting technology to recycle their own phones, but we don’t know how that will scale to create real digital sustainability. More related posts here.
Energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining: A study of electricity consumption in mining cryptocurrencies by Jingming Li, Nianping Li*, Jinqing Peng, Haijiao Cui, Zhibin Wu – College of Civil Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha 410081, China (PDF)