Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ethical investing and Green IT

In "Ethical issue: Green IT" (Aim High newsletter, Winter 2009), Australian Ethical Investment discuss the ethics of computers and investing in them. As AEI point out claims that computers could reduce greenhouse emissions, the most visible result is large amounts of electronic waste in landfill and large energy consuming data centres.
AEI avoids investing in electronics component manufacturers and distributors due to environmental risks. However, they do support Internet, telecommunications and software companies (having done well out of the late 1990s boom). Companies invested in include VMWare for virtualisation software, eServGlobal for mobile phone and Internet account management packages and Adobe Systems for e-document software. One area where AEI could do better is to make its web site more environmentally friendly. At 416 kbytes for eight pages, their newsletter uses about twice as many resources as it needs to. Also because the newsletter is only available in PDF format, it is necessarily to download all eight pages, even if you want to just read the one article on Green IT. This results in sixteen times the resources being used. While a web page does not use much in the way of energy to store and transmit, it all adds up to greater amounts of toxic waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

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