Technology is a transformative force for good, and must be harnessed toward the challenge of environmental sustainability. That is the reality of the moment as well as the opportunity for the future that we focused on today at “How Green Is the Internet,” held at Google’s Mountain View campus.
There are two things that jump out at me coming away from the session. One is the unique power and ability of the information and communications technology sector to drive transformative change in sustainability, both because of what we’re doing by ourselves as well as what we can do with our partners.
The second is the need for data. There is a lot of work that’s being done that would be better informed if we had more data around sustainability, measurement, and standards. ITI is in a good position to help on both fronts, building greater partnerships between the companies that are part of ITI and to share data.
Google’s Eric Schmidt put it plainly this afternoon. When talking about the relationship between energy consumption and long-term sustainability, he said, “The math doesn’t work.”
The Internet can create awareness and opportunity, and to innovate in this space is the only solution that I can see to reverse the math that we’re going to see in the next couple of decades.
The solution is the use of the Internet to create an awareness and empower individuals, and then use that power to come up with creative solutions. The optimization is to do stuff in such a way that does not make climatic things worse but does impact people’s lives.
Importantly, today’s sessions didn’t just rely on a singular point of view. Yes, the tech sector was broadly represented (from hardware makers to software designers to end users). But we also benefited from the viewpoints of environmental advocates and consumers. We heard from major manufacturers and small businesses. And, impressively, we all reached the same conclusion, namely, we need to work together to not only brainstorm on policy- and market-based solutions, but also on driving them to reality. Putting ideas on a white board is good, but we have to turn ideas into sustainable solutions for a greener Earth.