Day of the overtaking: “The digital, it is 4% of greenhouse gases emitted by humanity each year”, says an independent expert in digital

This Thursday, July 29 marks the day of the overrun, that is to say the moment when we have consumed all the resources that the planet is capable of generating over a year. The carbon footprint of our digital activities is partly responsible for this. “Digital technology accounts for 4% of greenhouse gases emitted by humanity each year”, says this Thursday, July 29 on franceinfo Frédéric Bordage, independent expert in digital. Also responsible and founder of the collective of experts, he believes that there is “really an important issue to reduce these impacts”, in particular by turning off our Internet box at night.

franceinfo: Can we talk about digital pollution?

Frédéric Bordage: Yes, we can say “digital pollution”. What must be understood is that from the moment we are going to have a digital use, for example to make an appointment to be vaccinated on an online system or to book a train ticket, there is the need to manufacture a set of devices, smartphones, computers, servers, and then supply them with electricity. And therefore, these two stages, the manufacture and supply of electricity to our equipment, will result in environmental impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of ecosystems, the depletion of abiotic resources, therefore the famous non-renewable natural resources, etc.

“There are 33 different environmental impacts every time you have digital use.”

Frédéric Bordage, independent digital expert

to franceinfo

Are we able to measure this pollution today?

Absolutely. We manage to measure it. We know that today, to take the example of greenhouse gases, we are around 4%. Digital technology accounts for 4% of greenhouse gases emitted by humanity each year. In France, we know that we are at a little over 3%. And about 80% of the impacts of digital technology are linked to the manufacture of equipment, and in particular to three particular stages: the extraction of materials from the ground, mining as one can imagine them, the transformation of ores into metals in processes, steelmaking procedures, and the transformation of these metals into electronic components. It is really at these stages that we will see the environmental impacts. There is an important stake in reducing these impacts.

Do our activities, like sending an email, consume energy?

Yes, quite simply because to write, send, read an email, we will have to turn on our computer, turn on the network which, for its part, remains on 24 hours a day. We will have to turn on the servers and therefore the equipment we are going to. use to send mail, write it, read it, will consume electricity. These are the remaining 20% ​​of the impact, which are directly linked to the production of the electricity that we will consume in France and elsewhere. And then, for our digital uses to take place, we are going to need our terminals, everything that makes it possible to route and transfer data. At the end of the network, we will need data centers, the famous data centers, in which we will have servers that operate 24 hours a day and that must be cooled. Because you have to imagine that a data center is a refrigerator in which you stack electric heaters. There was a while, if you don’t want all of this catching fire, you have to cool it down. And all of this will also consume a lot of electricity.

The first key to reducing your digital footprint is to extend the life of our equipment. And the other is to turn off whatever you can.

Frédéric Bordage, independent digital expert

to franceinfo

So, I’m going to give you two fundamental keys to reducing our digital footprint. The first is to extend the life of our equipment. We can very well part with a smartphone after two years, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure that it is reused, to promote its reconditioning. And the last step, which is also very simple, is to turn off everything that you can turn off when you leave your home or when you sleep. You can also turn off your box, and that saves a large part of the electricity.

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