Digital overindulgence or environmental indigestion ?
Although digital technology has revolutionized the way we live and work, it’s not always at one with nature. Can we find alternatives — such as digital degrowth and personal accountability — to technology that harms the environment?
François Houste, director and consultant at the digital agency Plan.Net France, wonders whether everything we do online, both in a professional and personal context, really matters. Because, although the digital world has revolutionized our day-to-day lives, overconsumption is having a harmful effect on the planet. His article “Civilisation numérique: vers la fin de la blague?” argues that data centers are one of the main culprits: in China, for example, they emit as much CO2 as 21 million vehicles. And it’s our own activities that power up these centers whenever we send an email, publish something on a social network, or use software.
Internet giants add fuel to the fire. Our excessive use of digital technology only increases their appetite for expansion. In short, it’s a vicious circle that involves all of us, and leaves us facing a sizeable challenge: how to find the right balance between the environment and digital technology by reining in our excesses and using digital tools more smartly. After all, if the death of the automobile is no longer a taboo subject, why shouldn’t we start thinking about digital degrowth? The solution to excessive energy consumption doesn’t lie in increasing the number of digital tools available but in proposing alternatives to digital — and costed not in euros but in carbon.
All of us, individually, need to think about our responsibility and find ways to avoid excessive digital consumption so that this revolution, which once promised such a bright future, does not become a blight on the environment.
To go further: “Civilisation numérique : vers la fin de la blague ?” by François Houste, director and consultant at Usbek & Rica (October 2019)