Over the past six months, I’ve become increasingly interested in the topic of web sustainability. The carbon footprint of the Internet was not something I used to give much thought to, which is surprising considering my interest in environmental issues and the fact that my profession is web-based.
Today marks the opening of the Kongernes Nordsjælland (Kings of North Zealand) National Park, comprising 5,000sq km of forest and 60sq km of lakes as well as a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I was very happy to finally make it to Carcassonne last week. It has been on my list since reading Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth over a decade ago. As we got our first glimpse of the spectacular citadel, we noticed something a bit odd! Gaudy yellow stripes streaked across the city walls and towers.
“Please think about the environment before printing this email.” It’s a request many of us are probably familiar with. It seems reasonable, but it also implies that an email, and by association the web, is a green medium. Sadly, this isn’t exactly true. What if I told you that the Internet is the largest coal-fired machine in the world?
I’ve received the link to download my copy of Jeremy Keith’s Going Offline, very much looking forward to getting stuck in!
Before going any further here, I want to make it clear that I’m well aware of the shortcomings of carbon offsetting, wonderfully satirised by the folks behind Cheat Neutral. However, carbon offsetting is undeniably better than doing nothing. And as sustainable as you might try to be, it probably isn’t enough. The World Resources Institute have calculated that we should be aiming for a maximum limit of two tons of CO₂ emissions per person, per year. And yet it is calculated that the average EU citizen incurs 9.1 tons of CO₂ emissions. The average US citizen emits about twice as much as this.
“[The Laked District is] desolate, and devoid of bird life. I think it is an environmental crime. We need to look at it as a wounded landscape. It has been changed over millennia by lots of different forces, and we are not letting it bounce back to the exciting wildlife-filled area it could be. Sheep moors or grouse-shooting estates are just like eucalyptus and cattle pastures.
“They are analogous. There has been a huge amount of indoctrination over 100 years, convincing people that this is what landscape looks like.
“But look at anywhere else in the world, this is a crime against nature. The National Trust has helped to rubber-stamp this vision as to how we should see the countryside.”
– Alexander Lees, Ecologist and Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University
I love travelling by train. But booking trains over flights for international travel is something that I’ve always assumed is complex, difficult and expensive. I’ve taken the Eurostar a few times and I’m no stranger to hopping on trains within a foreign country, yet planning something like London to Barcelona by train, for instance, isn’t something I’ve seriously contemplated.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been living in the French ski resort Flaine. It’s a bit different to most ski resorts. Whereas the general aesthetic of a ski resort is picturesque wooden chalets with smoking chimneys, Flaine is a brutalist concrete paradise. The Barbican of the Alps.
A great post from Mightybytes about the sustainability of the internet and data they’ve collected from their Ecograder tool. It includes this excellent infographic: