What are the adverse effects of digitization
Ramesh Chaurasia-Adverse effects of digitization
All of a sudden realization dawned on me about how things were completely different in my youth. There was no way we could contact a person living in a different city within a day. But today you just need to tap once to see and talk to a person sitting on the other side of the world! In the past thirty years or so, the progress that science and technology has made is mind-blogging.
From our living rooms to professional settings, everywhere we are surrounded by Artificial Intelligence. Not only that, most of our transactions have also become digitised.
When the outbreak of covid-19 put a halt on our mobility and confined us within the four walls of our houses, the internet came to the rescue. It has witnessed an exponential increase in its use since 2020.
The laptop screens became everyone’s workplace, be it students or professionals.
Science and tech have undoubtedly made our world a global village. We cannot deny the staggering developments that digital technology has made and the dominance it has on our lives right now. But like the old saying goes, every coin has two sides. When we flip the coin, it lays bare the negative effects of digitalization that we often tend to brush aside
Carbon Emissions and Fossil Depletion
We cannot turn a blind eye to the enormous amount of electricity that the digital tools are consuming. This does not only lead to the exhaustion of fossil fuels as the majority of the electricity used around the globe is produced from thermal energy but it also becomes a leading cause of the emission of greenhouse gases.
A finding about this that stuns me is that the digital industry is set to have a larger impact on global warming than the aviation industry. This clearly points towards the graveness of this ‘concealed’ pollution that digital tools are causing.
Impact of mining done for the production of digital tools
Smartphones, laptops and other digital devices that we use everyday are produced using metals which are extremely rare. Thus, mining leads to the depletion of these already ‘rare’ metals. Moreover, these metals are mostly present in vulnerable regions. As a result, mining poses a colossal threat on the ecology of such regions. It causes extensive damage to soil and contamination of water. And the repercussions of all this have to be borne by the flora and fauna existing in those regions.
With the soaring usage of digital devices comes the concern of their disposal. Globally, E-waste constitutes more than five percent of the municipal waste and what makes it even more worrisome is its complex composition. While on one hand it contains toxic substances, it also has some recoverable metals.
Disposal of untreated E-waste in landfills pollutes soil, percolates into ground and contaminates groundwater. This risks the contamination of the food chains, affecting the health of human beings and other species.
What is the way forward?
We have to take into consideration the perils of digitalization and devise strategies to make the digitalization of the world a sustainable process.
Just like some of the big tech giants have set the target of limiting their CO2 emissions by 2030, in order to tackle the growing menace of environmental destruction as a result of digitalization, other companies should also implement a proper framework, adopt goals and actively work towards them by investing in renewable energy sources, shifting their centres to regions rich in renewable energy resources and engaging in activities like reforestation that aim at replenishing lost environmental covers.
Secondly, efforts should be made from their end to increase the lifespan of these digital devices.
Apart from this, E-waste should be recycled as much as possible and properly treated before disposal.
While the formulation and implementation of the policies are in the hands of the respective authorities, there are certain things that we, the users, should keep in mind. This includes using our digital devices only when necessary and discarding them only after their lifespan has ended.
Ecologist Barry Commoner has aptly said, “The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it”. It is imperative for everyone to understand that progress cannot be made at the expense of the environment. For digitalization to flourish while protecting the environment, the ideas of sustainable development should be incorporated.
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A superior and highly experienced entrepreneur in the field of business for quite a long time now. Also, a philanthropist, author and public speaker who believes in working towards the overall well being and betterment of the society as a whole.