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How Bad Are Computers for the Environment?

I found this report comparing the CO2 emissions of computers with those of airplanes quite interesting. It’s not a comparison you might think of offhand, but the results are quite educational.

IT in general – that’s computers, servers and so forth – were calculated to be causing about 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. That’s the same as the estimate for airplanes.

I find those statistics very interesting, but I can’t help but think of the entire lifecycle. You know how disposable some treat their computers; getting a new machine every couple years, whether the old one works well or not. Seems like another problem to me.

But you can’t expect people to do without computers right now. I’d be in a bad spot without mine since I rely on it to earn my income. The technology is simply too important to individuals, businesses and government.

But what can be done is to be more sensible about computers. I’d like to see people be more aware of the ways they can use less electricity with their computers. I’d like for people to think more carefully about when they dispose of them, and most importantly, how computers are disposed of. They aren’t exactly landfill material, after all.

When your computer is useless, you need to look for computer recycling programs currently active in your area. Goodwill does this in some areas, but not at all times. You’ll want to take the proper precautions to remove your old data.

But in many cases you can keep using the same computer for many years. A good spyware scan is sometimes all it takes to fix a slow machine. Other times there are dust issues, and a cautious cleaning at home or one done by professionals will help matters.

You should also think about how much you leave your computer on. Most do not need to be on 24/7. They can be turned off when not in use or you can check your computer’s power saving options.

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