Great Questions from Rich Goode’s Sustainability Class @Harvard
Last night I got to weigh in on Green IT in Rich Goode’s “Planning for Carbon Neutrality” course. “Information” Technology, both personal and organizational, is a major factor in energy consumption. While looking for more sustainable solutions, much can be done to make better use of the technologies we have without leaping to the next new thing.
Some of the provocative queries that emerged include:
Which is more “cost effective” – recycling electronics the right way or simply tossing them into a landfill or sending them overseas? Note, please, that this arose in the classroom in Cambridge, not from one of the many students attending online around the world. A great question indeed because it begs the question of the externalization of costs. If developing nations pay with detriments to their health and environment, is this truly a win for the unscrupulous organization? Factor in the brand risk and the data security risk and liability, and perhaps you’ll get a better cost analysis.
Will the enabling benefits of technology such as telecommuting offset the increased energy use and carbon creation? As more and more gadgets proliferate and more and more of the 7 billion people populating the planet connect, are the savings gained from reducing the number of people commuting, reducing the amount of commercial real estate needed for work enough to offset the impact of our pervasive connectivity?
Who is “for” banning export of e-waste and who “against” and why? In favor of banning export of e-waste are the President of the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Basel Action Network, e-Stewards recyclers including Redemtech, the Electronics Take Back Coalition, Green Peace and many upstanding corporations, organizations and citizens. The party that most strongly champions export of e-waste is ISRI – the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Thanks, Rich and class, for a terrific evening!