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Laurel Brunner discusses the significance of the carbon footprint of electronic media and its effect on the environment.
Most likely it does not occur to many people that electronic media actually has a larger environmental footprint than print media. How is this possible when print is so obviously bad for the environment? It is a simple calculation because print has a one-off carbon footprint and printed paper can be recycled up to 7 times. It’s part of a supply chain that supports tree planting which promotes the preservation of habitats and creates a way of organically capturing carbon dioxide.
On the other hand, electronic media has a carbon footprint that continues to vigorously effect the environment since it requires energy to store and access. The wide range of storage requirements for digital media is dependent on several servers continuously operating. Even if you continue to keep your email inboxes clean and tidy and regularly delete what is disposable, you can be certain that somewhere out there all of them are still waiting to be retrieved. Not only is this creepy but it’s very bad for the environment.
In reality we aren’t going to turn away from electronic media, it is just too valuable, and everyone has become dependent on it from emails to even Netflix downloads. However, we need to do further research about its environmental impact which is why the publication of ISO 20294 (Graphic technology — Quantification and communication for calculating the carbon footprint of e-media) is so vital.
This standard is a framework for data collection that takes the first steps towards providing accurate data for the environmental footprints of electronic media. It won’t change the world by tomorrow, but over time hopefully enough data will be collected to affect policy and investment decisions, particularly in media and how digital systems work to support communications such as education, entertainment and socio-economic systems. ISO 20294 is a framework which enables interested parties to attain electronic media carbon footprint data in a reliable way. It guarantees consistency in carbon footprint calculator design and offers e-media users in the supply chain with a common model for data collection. Most importantly it helps with tracking and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which is something the planet’s health depends upon if its future is to be certain.
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