We don’t have an energy production problem. We do have an energy consumption problem.

The amount of CO2 that electricity causes depends on the type of fuel that is used to produce it. The grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced can range from around 50 where nuclear or renewables are being used, to more than 700 grams of CO2 per kWh where lots of coal is being used. Clearly, we should thus be using renewables where possible. However—and this is a HUGE however—renewables have a major material cost to the Earth. They are much more resource intense to manufacture. EVs, for example, require four times the minerals that traditional vehicles do to manufacture. Renewable technology, whether it is electric vehicles, wind farms or solar panels, is hugely resource intense to make. Thus, using renewables in no way allows us to think that we can use and waste as much electricity as we like. We are not facing an energy production challenge. We are facing an energy consumption crisis. Even if everything was renewable, we would still have to drastically reduce our impact on Earth ecosystems. We still must consume less.

Smartphones and laptops depend a lot on batteries. Here’s some tips to consume less energy by treating our batteries in the most environmentally friendly manner possible:

  1. Keep your battery level between 50% and 80%. Don’t let your battery discharge fully and avoid charging it up to 100%
  2. Use short charges where possible.
  3. Don’t leave the battery plugged in at full charge.
  4. Don’t use wireless charging, which can be 50% less efficient than wired charging.
  5. Use a quality wire to charge. Cheap wires can do damage.
  6. Plug out charger after use, as chargers continue to consume small amounts of electricity even when not in use.
  7. Don’t expose the battery to a lot of heat. Anything above 30º Celsius is not a good idea.
  8. Keep your battery well ventilated, making sure there’s good airflow around it so that it won’t overheat.

Here are some general tips for reducing energy use on your device:

  1. Minimize notifications.
  2. Minimize any sort of interactions your device has with another device.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to be tracked. Use ad blockers. You’re doing something good for the environment and good for your own privacy.
  4. Disable location services.
  5. Remove unused apps, data, content. Every time you go into a folder, look for something to delete.
  6. Think hard before downloading apps and other content.
  7. Watch out for greedy apps. Certain software has a vastly bigger impact on processing than others.
  8. If you’re watching videos, stream in standard definition. It’s more than good enough quality and will significantly reduce energy use.
  9. Dim your screen as much as you can.
  10. Use dark mode where possible. (White uses about six times more energy than black.)
  11. Use the smallest device possible and the smallest screen possible.

Podcast: World Wide Waste
Interviews with prominent thinkers outlining what can be done to make digital as sustainable as possible.
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