Sustainable Scotland
Sustainable Scotland

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Sustainable Scotland

2 Material world

Dematerialisation hasn't really happened, because although e-shopping has increased, material things are still the main stuff of commerce and e-shopping requires centralised warehouses, and home delivery traffic. It is not counterbalanced by reduction of travel to shops by consumers, it is just an extra channel rather than a replacement.

Although it is more resource-efficient to download a CD over the internet compared to going to a shop to buy one, a lot of people burn their downloads onto a CD at home. Digital download of books or newspapers tend to be printed off rather than read on screen as it is, as yet, not as comfortable as reading from a paper or a book. So energy and materials such as paper/CDs are now consumed at home instead of in an industrial setting.

The 'weightless economy' has just moved its weight elsewhere. Saving music onto MP3 players may reduce home CD-burning, but people tend to update to a newer version of MP3 player. This is therefore another product using resources for manufacture. Fuchs (2008) gives a figure of 5% of Germany's energy being consumed by use of the internet in 2000, and 8% in 2005 by the ICT industry and home use, including infrastructure.

A reduction in emissions could be made by using ICT to make energy efficiencies throughout all industries via optimisation software and hardware to improve designs in buildings and transport, as well as managing overall consumption: that is the SMART opportunity, according to The Climate Group report. The ICT industry has inaugurated The Green Grid [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to encourage and share good practice in increasing its energy efficiency. This Green Grid is not without its detractors.

Activity 3

You might want to visit The Register website as there are various IT-related white papers that may be of interest. You have to register with them and the paper is then sent to you by email.

Read the articles and make notes on you have read.

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