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Digital climate impact

Kari Elisabet Svare
Svare is a member of Grandmothers for Peace.
CLIMATE CRISIS / We are on our way into a crisis that is due to over-exploitation of resources, polluting and power-intensive production as well as an overriding market power.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

At home, politicians look blind at emissions cuts and electric cars. There is not much talk that almost two thousand liters of water is needed to produce one ton of lithium. We ignore that kids are sent down to health mines to recover cobalt to the latest mobile phonemodels as well as subsidized electric cars to mediated citizens. Measurement and reduction are non-words, increased energy consumption a non-issue, and the explosive digitization is embraced relentlessly.


A large number of countries have chosen to keep the FM network for radio, but the Norwegian authorities forced the digital DAB network in 2017, and thus we had to acquire new radios – which use more power than those we had to waste. Likewise, old power meters were replaced smart power meters (AMS) without the power customers being asked or informed about the radiation hazard. In reality, it should keep up with a posted power measurement per day. Now a constant stream of information and radiation is transmitted.

Cloud-based data storage and data processing are very demanding. The data center Elhub, where the information from the smart meters is processed, consumes heavily with energy, and new cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are power-consuming monsters.

«People know that you have to save on air travel, replace the old obsolete car with an electric car and introduce meat-free days if they have to do something about their CO2"spill," the newspaper Politiken reported in December.

Overall, wireless networks emit as much CO as air traffic.

Where clean energy is lacking, the dirty energy use in the weather runs parallel to the extraction of limited minerals for the production of constantly new smart products. These emit electromagnetic radiation and have built-in monitoring functions.

By 2030, the Internet, including technological production and use, could consume up to half of the world's electricity. (Energy Research & Social Science 38, 2018)

Overall, wireless networks emit just as much CO2 like air traffic, though not as climate-damaging. The number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to quadruple in the next five years. These are objects that can not be repaired – or not worth repairing – a lot of environmentally hazardous garbage and a high-speed resource drain.

Changes in attitude

The climate crisis confronts us with attitude and demanding changes, including digital purchases, mobile and internet use and power services. Baptism for the people, for the excited we have been seduced by the adventurous possibilities of digitalization. A restriction is a long way off, since the majority are digitally dependent and also live in the illusion that consumer freedom is a human right.

Unfortunately, modern men and women in Norway live in unfree conditions with a technology we lack overview of and insight into. If the systems fail or break down, we become abandoned and helpless. Mobile, emergency and power networks are exposed to extreme weather. Computer-controlled solutions offer benefits, but also create digital class distinctions as well as new types of crime – cunning espionage, remote-controlled warfare, and not least: Any computer system can be hacked, taken over, controlled from outside or deleted.

War and crises threaten us from several angles. It's high time to slow down and think – even when it comes to blind faith in digital innovations.

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