A new study suggests that the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry will contribute, by 2040, a carbon footprint greater than 14% of all contributing industries, up from 1.6% in 2007. That’s half as large as the carbon projected impact of the entire transportation industry. ICT represents computers, monitors, servers, smartphones, tablets, telecom and the like.
The study fingers smartphones as a stealth culprit in generating a high planet killing carbon footprint. As we shift away from laptop and tower PCs towards smaller mobile devices, the overall environmental impact of technology is getting worse. From Fast Company:
Smartphones are particularly insidious for a few reasons. With a two-year average life cycle, they’re more or less disposable. The problem is that building a new smartphone, and mining the rare materials inside them, represents 85% to 95% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for two years (my note: not to mention the truly destructive strip mining required to obtain rare earth minerals). That means buying one new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating an existing smartphone for an entire decade.
Zerohedge does a good job of spanking Apple and its peers for cultivating and building business on a replacement culture. Apple certainly plays the part of being an obedient progressive company, but its success requires rapid replacement of Apple technology by users. I’m sure you Apple users are acutely aware that the company is particularly aggressive in crippling the functionality of its “older” products with a variety of tricks to force (i.e. dupe) customers to buy a new device, such as software updates that cripple and slow down the device.
So, raise your hand all you climate alarmists. How long do you keep your cell phone before getting a new one? Perhaps, before the next smartphone upgrade cycle, just replace the battery in your existing phone and suffer through not having the latest shiny spiny thingy. I mean, after all, it is the planet we are saving.