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Smartphones and data centers harm the environment, study shows

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March 1, 2018 McMaster University Read full ScienceDaily article here

…[Scientists] studied the carbon footprint of consumer devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktops as well as data centres and communication networks as early as 2005…. Not only did they discover that software is driving the consumption of information and communications technologies (ICT), they also found that ICT has a greater impact on emissions than we thought and most emissions come from production and operation.

….Among all the devices, trends suggest that by 2020, the most damaging devices to the environment are smartphones. While smartphones consume little energy to operate, 85% of their emissions impact comes from production. A smartphone’s chip and motherboard require the most amount of energy to produce as they are made up of precious metals that are mined at a high cost….

…”Communication and data centres have to go under renewable energy now. The good news is Google and Facebook data centres are going to run on renewable energy. But there needs to be a policy in place so that all data centres follow suit. Also, it’s not sustainable to have a two-year subsidized plan for smartphones.”…

Lotfi Belkhir, Ahmed Elmeligi. Assessing ICT global emissions footprint: Trends to 2040 & recommendations. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018; 177: 448 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.12.239

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