Fragile digital products, durable waste

Today, we make fragile electronic products and durable waste. Digital is inherently unstable. It is not something suited to extremely hot weather, for example. The materials that are used to make digital products are extremely durable, though. The plastics and the chemicals will live on in the environment for hundreds and thousands of ye... Read More »

Digital is not green

If we’re going to have any chance of solving the multiple environmental crises we now face, we must start by being honest with ourselves. We don’t have an energy production crisis. We do have an energy consumption crisis. We do have a waste production crisis. We consume entirely unsustainable levels of energy, and we create entirely unsu... Read More »

Innovation and efficiency leading us to catastrophe

The Titan submersible which imploded as it tried to reach the Titanic wouldn’t get certified because certification “slowed down innovation”. This is an age when innovation has become a religious mantra, a belief system, a matter of fate. Innovation culture did not simply lead the Titan to catastrophe. High-tech innovation is leading the ... Read More »

Reducing waste in the digital design process

Digital design tools rarely pay attention to weight and waste. We must become much more focused, as we design and create digital data, about its weight and the often huge waste that it leaves behind in the form of drafts, copies, etc. I’ve been doing a lot of audio editing recently and it’s shocking the amount of data that gets produce... Read More »

Marketing vanity metrics are driving e-waste in data centers

How many websites need a guarantee that they will be available 99.9% of the time? 1%? How much data needs such absolute security guarantees that the device on which it is stored needs to be physically destroyed? To achieve 99.9% uptime guarantees, data centers must replace their servers every three to five years. This results in massiv... Read More »

Efficiency and performance are environmentally destructive metrics

Efficiency nearly never leads to energy reduction. Performance nearly always involves the use of more materials. It started in the coal mines of England. They needed a way to more efficiently mine coal. The steam engine gave them efficiency and power and they mined a lot more coal because of it, and with each improvement in performance... Read More »

Waste and destruction is how we mine the world

Humans have this fantastic ability to lie to ourselves and others. We enthusiastically embrace the very opposite of the truth and call it the truth. Right now, as we face multiple environmental crises, we are enthusiastically trying to convince ourselves that doubling the behavior that caused the crises will solve the crises. If we doubl... Read More »

No such thing as “green” transition

Mining is devastating to the environment. The explosion in mining since the 1970s is one of the key reasons we have climate, water, air and multiple other crises. As a species we have begun to devour the Earth, and the environment simply can’t cope with our voracious appetites. We are now trying to convince ourselves that we will achieve... Read More »

No such thing as sustainable mining

When Pietro Jarre started working in mining in the early Nineties, the mines he was dealing with were producing 100,000 tons per year. Later in his career, mines he worked with were producing 100,000 tons per day. Pietro, who has a doctorate in geotechnical engineering, and is a specialist in geotechnical and environmental issues on wast... Read More »

Tips for more sustainable smartphone use

About 80% of the total environmental damage of a smartphone occurs during the manufacturing process, so the single most important thing you can do to mitigate that damage is to hold on to your phone for as long as possible. If it breaks, get it repaired. Over 60 years of life, if you keep your smartphone for an average of two years, th... Read More »