Ever taken at least a split second to think about what your reading or writing habits mean as a contributor to the state of the environment? Appreciate the opportunity to use digital media but also question conventional wisdom that it's the best for saving trees even compared to paper? No matter where you stand, a report by PBS' Don Carli contains some highlights to validate your concerns (bolded text is added for emphasis):
"The story of sustainable media is a 'bad news/good news' story. The bad news is that the public’s concern about our forests and the environment is justified. The good news is that seeing beyond the green rhetoric and rethinking the lifecycle impacts of both print and digital media will play a major role in allowing us to enjoy forests and conserve our environment...Greenpeace estimates that by 2020 data centers will demand more electricity than is currently demanded by France, Brazil, Canada, and Germany combined. What is less widely known is that mountaintop-removal coal mining is also a major cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and the pollution of over 1,200 miles of headwater streams in the United States...Chances are that the electricity flowing through your digital media devices and their servers is linked to mountaintop-removal coal from the Appalachian Mountains. The Southern Appalachian forest region of the U.S. is responsible for 23% of all coal production in the United States and 57% of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from coal...In addition to considering the way digital media can create new possibilities for a better world we also need to consider the less obvious impacts of the purchased energy, embodied energy, dark content and e-waste associated with the growing use of digital media...[O]ur environment now faces challenges on many fronts that call for a new literacy about the state of the environment and the 'hidden' lifecycle impacts of the media choices we make. The widespread adoption of sustainable print and digital media supply chains can change our world again and help us to restore our environment. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be misled by false dilemmas or deceived into making unsustainable choices, distal concerns about destruction of the environment and the decline our forests will soon become a harsh and uncomfortable reality."
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