Quarantine Book Club — Gerry McGovern “World Wide Waste”
Hello internet friends,
We’re trapped at home and you are also probably most likely trapped at home as well. So let’s all get together, from the comfort of our own bunkers, and talk about something else for an hour. We invite an author in to talk about their work and answer questions from you, the audience.
About the author: The Irish Times has described Gerry as one of five visionaries who have had a major impact on the development of the Web. He has appeared on BBC, CNN and CNBC television, partaken in various radio shows, and featured in numerous print media publications. He is the founder and CEO of Customer Carewords.
About the book: Digital is physical. Digital is not green. Digital costs the Earth. Every time I download an email I contribute to global warming. Every time I tweet, do a search, check a webpage, I create pollution. Digital is physical. Those data centers are not in the Cloud. They’re on land in massive physical buildings packed full of computers hungry for energy. It seems invisible. It seems cheap and free. It’s not. Digital costs the Earth.
One of the most difficult challenges with digital is to truly grasp what it is, its form, its impact on the physical world. I want to help give you a feel for digital. I’m going to analyze how many trees would need to be planted to offset a particular digital activity. For example:
- 1.6 billion trees would have to be planted to offset the pollution caused by email spam.
- 1.5 billion trees would need to be planted to deal with annual e-commerce returns in the US alone.
- 231 million trees would need to be planted to deal with the pollution caused as a result of the data US citizens consumed in 2019.
- 16 million trees would need to be planted to offset the pollution caused by the estimated 1.9 trillion yearly searches on Google.
We don’t have an energy production crisis. We do have an energy consumption crisis. We consume far too much of everything the Earth produces and in the last 40 years our appetites for everything have exploded, driven and enabled by advances in digital technology. Recycling and renewables are often a form of green washing for big corporations. To go 100% renewable would not be without its costs, as the machines that make wind and solar technology need to be manufactured, consuming energy, the batteries in our electric cars need precious raw materials. We consume too much energy, that’s the problem, and like our waistlines, these habits have gone out of control.
Ticket price: $5. Cheap. And the guest gets a cut. We used to do events in person that required all of us to get in a car or plane. Now the planet is better off and you can participate from wherever you are. We guarantee you’ll get more than $5 value out of it, and charging admission makes it more likely that the people who sign up plan to show up. We know these are uncertain times to say the least, so no one is turned away! Use code: ALLAREWELCOME for a free ticket if you need to.
How does it work? We use the conferencing system Zoom. After you sign up you’ll get an email with the Zoom access code. You don’t have to join with video, but it’s nice to see faces.
What if it totally sucks? You’ll get your $5 back and we’ll all have learned something.