Impact of Digital Technology on the Environment

Applied Tech Review | Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Digital technologies are not only essential to accessing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but they are also a prerequisite to developing sound and effective solutions to growing environmental challenges.

Fremont, CA: More than at any other moment in history, humanity is producing a staggering amount of data, which is vital for comprehending our societies' difficulties and developing solutions. It is necessary to have access to high-quality and transparent data (SDGs)  to solve the triple planetary crisis and accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals. Digital technologies can offer novel solutions to these complicated problems, but they also come with their own environmental costs. In this perspective, enhancing global regulation over data and digital technologies is crucial to environmental improvement.

Impact of digital technologies on the environment

Despite its seeming separation from the physical world, digital activity has produced a unique carbon imprint. According to a 2019 analysis by the Shift Project, the global digital carbon footprint accounted for almost 3.7 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the emission levels of the aviation industry. In addition, the energy usage of digital technology surged by over 70 percent between 2013 and 2020.

Although digital technology is frequently underestimated as a major carbon generator, its impact on global sustainability is extensive, as are its origins. The scope of digital activity has expanded to encompass everything from video streaming and online gaming to cryptocurrency trading and digital banking. These mediums, while frequently advantageous and innovative in their own right, come with an environmental cost. They contribute to the escalating volume of data, hence driving the data processing cycle and subsequent emission creation.

According to a study conducted by OVO Energy in the United Kingdom, the country could reduce its carbon output by almost 16,433 tons if each adult sent one less email per day. According to the Shift Project, the annual average CO2 consumption of streaming internet video exceeds 300 million tons, similar to Spain's annual emissions. As daily social media usage across all demographics increases, the environmental impact of these activities must be carefully evaluated.

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