Is the green bandwagon riding on the right track?

Computer and IT companies throughout the world are jumping aboard the green bandwagon in a frenzy of environmental consciousness. But, despite their collective desire to minimise the damage to our planet, some industry experts are convinced the wagon is heading in the wrong direction. Recently, Dell came to Europe saying it wants its supplier network to become more Earth-friendly by embarking on tree-planting missions and to make public their carbon footprint. Bet that left a few of them scratching their heads. Dell is not alone in its environmental mission. For instance, Apple is committed to eliminating the use of toxic components in its products. IBM has said it will increase its IT equipment efficiency in a drive to cut power consumption. And Fujitsu Siemens is taking a long hard look at how Britain’s largest companies run their data centres, an IT operation that’s recognised as a major energy guzzler. Don’t get me wrong. All of these initiatives can only be described as laudable unless, of course, they are smoke-screening more important problems. Every computer hardware and software company has marketing strategies that hinge on convincing consumers they must buy new equipment to keep up with the pack when it comes to computing power and software capability. It’s at this point where the computer companies’ green bandwagon takes a wrong turn. Industry experts on power consumption and related environmental damage are clear on the point that using a computer does burn energy, but it’s nowhere near as much as manufacturing the machine in the first place. This view was made crystal clear recently by Professor Williams at the Arizona State University. He said that if we look at the total energy consumption of a PC, then only 20% is allocated to using it, but 80% is taken in making it. With this in mind, shouldn’t computer firms be looking at ways of extending product lifetimes? Not only would it prove to be an energy saver, but it would contribute to lessening the burden on landfill sites struggling to cope with the amount of computers that are dumped each year—that’s if all of them actually get to those dumps. How many have you got in your basement?

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