“Letters to Greta” report on the ecological impacts of streaming video, 5G, manufacturing smartphones, e-vehicles, solar panels and wind turbine systems.
Katie Singer writes about technology and nature. “An Electronic Silent Spring” is her most recent book. In 2018, she spoke about the Internet’s footprint at the United Nations. She dreams that every smartphone user knows the supply chain of one substance (of 1000+) in every smartphone.
13 OCTOBER 2020, KATIE SINGER
“Behind Our Screens: An Invitation to Learn a Smartphone’s True Costs” (Letter #3 to Greta) has just been posted at Wall St. International Magazine: https://wsimag.com/science-and-technology/63710-behind-our-screens
In 2018, when I met Soumya Dutta, co-founder of India Climate Justice, he spelled out my privileges as a U.S. American. (I think you know what he shared, but I did not.) “In the twentieth century,” Mr. Dutta explained, “the human population increased four-fold, from 1.6 to 6.1 billion people. During the same time, global energy consumption increased between twelve and sixteen-fold1. Whenever one unit of energy is produced and consumed, water, land and other bio-resources are also consumed; and hazardous waste is generated. In other words, because of cars, electricity, air conditioning and televisions, the average person now uses over four times the amount of natural resources that our grandparents consumed. Meanwhile, in 2020, six billion more of us are alive.”
I added two items to Soumya Dutta’s list: because of cars, electricity, air conditioning, the Internet and smartphones, the average person now uses over four times the amount of natural resources that our grandparents consumed.
“Actually,” Soumya Dutta continued, “referring here to ‘average’ people is not correct. According to the World Bank, the average Indian consumes about 630 kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe) per year. The average Bangladeshi consumes less than 300 kgoe. The average U.S. American annually consumes over 6000 kgoe. “To provide every global citizen with a decent opportunity for a healthy life (starting with clean water and toilets), poor countries with the lowest emissions might need to increase their per capita energy consumption. To reduce human-imposed burdens on natural ecosystems sufficiently, people who consume excessively will need to reduce their energy and water consumption by at least 70%2 and eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions completely.” 3
Soumya Dutta got me wondering how I could reduce my consumption by 70% and eliminate my greenhouse gas emissions.