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Bill St. Arnaud is a R&E Network and Green IT consultant who works with clients on a variety of subjects such as the next generation research and education and Internet networks. He also works with clients to develop practical solutions to reduce GHG emissions such as free broadband and dynamiccharging of eVehicles (See http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/) . For more about me please see http://goo.gl/pOpwBView my complete profile

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The next killer app for the Internet - dematerialization

[I am here at the fantastic Freedom to Connect conference which is well worth watching on webcast (http://freedom-to-connect.net/). Many scientists are warning that the planet may be close to a tipping point where we will experience run away global warming (see Andy Revkin’s recent blog from the NYTimes for a summary of several studies on this issue). We simply may not have the luxury time for small incremental adaptations to address the challenge of global climatic disruption. One of the major ways we can reduce our CO2 footprint is through de-materialization where we replace physical products with virtual ones delivered over the Internet. Some studies indicated that we can reduce Co2 emissions by as much as 20% with materialization. I argue that dematerialization can be further amplified through carbon rewards (instead of Carbon taxes) where consumers are rewarded with a variety of virtual products in exchange of reducing their carbon footprint in other walks of their lives. But to take advantage of this opportunity of dematerialization we need open high speed broadband networks everywhere. Hence the importance of conferences such as Freedom to Connect. From a pointer by Tim OReilly on Dave Farber’s list – BSA]


Andy Revkin blog on the planet being at a tipping point
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/tipping-points-and-the-climate-challenge/

Interesting seybold piece on the environmental impact of publishing:
http://www.seyboldreport.com/ready-or-not-welcome-age-low-carbon-publishing

Have you ever considered what the carbon footprint of a magazine or an eReader is? What about the carbon footprint of your publication? Not everyone cares about carbon footprints or defers to the authority of science on climate change, but when Coke, Pepsi and Apple begin to carbon footprint their products, and Taco-Bell begins to open LEED-certified restaurants with low carbon footprints, it may be time to start.
According to information recently released by Apple, the lifecycle carbon footprint of an iPhone is responsible for the emission of 121 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions over the course of a three year expected lifetime of use. Over 10 million iPhones have been sold to date. Though it is not a direct comparison, it is interesting to note that Discover magazine estimated that the lifecycle carbon footprint of each copy of its publication is responsible for 2.1 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the same amount produced by twelve 100-watt light bulbs glowing for an hour or a car engine burning 14 ounces of gasoline. Over the next few years it can be expected that the reporting of lifecycle data and the carbon labeling of all products will move from the margins to the mainstream - including the footprinting of print and digital media products. Welcome to the age of low carbon everything.

There are billions of kilowatt hours of electricity embodied in the paper, ink and digital technologies we use each day, and close to a kilogram of CO2 is emitted for each kilowatt, but the energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with print and digital media supply chains have typically been overlooked, misunderstood or underestimated. Those days are drawing to an end. Increasingly major brands like Walmart, Pepsi, Coke, TacoBell and Timberland see carbon footprinting and carbon disclosure as an opportunity to differentiate themselves and grow - even in the face of a global recession.
[…]
Before you use one of the many carbon calculators popping on the Web to measure the carbon footprint of whatever medium you use, it's important to realize that the results can vary dramatically - as do their underlying assumptions. Most fail to employ standards. Until now, lots of calculators and "carbon neutral" companies have made promises to help you reduce your footprint. But there's been no single authority or regulatory agency to dictate how carbon usage should be calculated or disclosed. Standards and specifications for carbon footprinting such as ISO 14040, ISO 14064 and PAS 2050 now do exist, and open standards-based Web 2.0 platforms like AMEE are now available that enable accurate carbon footprinting, like-for-like comparisons and large-scale supply chain analysis.

Carbon rewards instead of carbon taxes
http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/