The power consumption of our high-tech machines and devices is hugely underestimated.
When we talk about energy consumption, all attention goes to the electricity use of a device or a machine while in operation. A 30 watt laptop is considered more energy efficient than a 300 watt refrigerator. This may sound logical, but this kind of comparisons does not make much sense if you don’t also consider the energy that was required to manufacture the devices you compare. This is especially true for high-tech products, which are produced by means of extremely material- and energy-intensive manufacturing processes. How much energy do our high-tech gadgets really consume?
A handful of microchips can have as much embodied energy as a car. And since digital technology has brought about a plethora of new products, and has also infiltrated almost all existing products, this change has vast consequences.
Last, but not least: the energy-intensive nature of digital technology is not due only to energy-intensive manufacturing processes. Equally as important is the extremely short lifecycle of most gadgets. If digital products would last a lifetime (or at least a decade), embodied energy would not be such an issue. Most computers and other electronic devices are replaced only after a couple of years, while they are still perfectly workable devices. Addressing technological obsolescence would be the most powerful approach to lower the ecological footprint of digital technology.
Read the full article: The monster footprint of digital technology at by Kris De Decker Low Tech Magazine.