Digital activity & energy consumption
You might think of turning off the light switch or even investing in solar panels but do you think of doing less internet searches? On its own each search may appear to consume little but if you step back and take a look at the data centres that mine data from our digital activity you might be surprised to find that Facebook’s proposed 410 acre data centre in the Netherlands is going to consume 10% of all Dutch wind energy production. Its Meta server farm in Denmark is predicted to consume 15% of the country’s electricity this year while in Ireland, it is predicted that, by 2028, data centres will consume 30% of the country’s electricity.
So, there we are trying to cut back on energy use, pollution and carbon emissions, while our ‘meta’ world of part real, part virtual future, fuelled by 5G technology, mining data quite frankly to enable us to be sold to better, is in direct opposition to these laudable goals. Might we need, not just a carbon tax/credit system but digital rationing in the future?
Just as we need slow-food – a move back to real foods grown organically and sustainably in ways that allow the soil to renourish and capture carbon, we need slow tech.
Fast food and fast tech, along with big pharma, are fuelled primarily by greed – that is the need to make shareholders richer. If you step back and look at these strange covid times from a financial perspective, you could say everything that has happened has made big pharma and big tech very rich. While millions died hundreds of $billions were made by those providing the tech to support track and trace and vaccine passports as well as vaccine and testing administration.
The digital media, whose main job is to sell advertising, have been funded to a large extent by the vaccine makers and their international sales force, that is governments. The UK government, up there in the top 10 advertisers, spent more than the global product giant Unilever in 2021.
The wealth of billionaires in the tech space, vaccines or home delivery has sky rocketed. Take the top seven – Jeff Bezos of Amazon’s wealth, now close to $200 billion, grew by $79 billion; Bill Gates, at $132 billion, grew by $34 billion; while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Larry Page and Sergin Brin and Larry Ellison’s Oracle, provider of covid related technology, doubled their worth to over $60 billion each. (Source:https://inequality.org/great-divide/updates-billionaire-pandemic/)
The winner was Tesla’s Elon Musk – cruising towards a $200 billion valuation to get us off the planet with SpaceX, like the brilliant and deeply disturbing film Wall-E.
As someone aptly said: ‘there was never a lockdown – there was just rich people hiding while poor people brought them things’. The other big winners are the vaccine makers themselves with Pfizer, BioNtech and Moderna making $1,000 profit a second (Source: hhttps://reliefweb.int/report/world/pfizer-biontech-and-moderna-making-1000-profit-every-second-while-world-s-poorest). As Bill Gates said regarding his move into the vaccine space “It’s the best investment I ever made.”
The primary purpose of going digital big time, illustrated by Zuckerberg’s ‘metaverse’ future where we live in a part virtual – part real world, is to better sell to us and make more money. It hinges on global 5G technology and more satellites, Elon Musk’s big investment zone, and we love it – we are in that honeymoon period that we were will the arrival of American fast food, not realising that it would addict and kill us within a generation. Apart from the obvious and serious dangers of 5G, which are being totally ignored by the government sellers of air space, I don’t see anyone asking what we need it for?
I’m not anti-tech at all – the existence, for example, of ‘pubmed’ a global library of the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, has allowed outsiders like me to break into the ivory tower of medicine to see what the research actually shows. Transparency, and education, is a great thing but it runs against the tide of information control by the big tech giants who own digital media and their major advertisers. Pfizer’s 2021 advertising budget in the US was in the $billions of dollars realm, as an example, while the UK Government spend, largely on their behalf achieving impressive vaccine sales, was £hundreds of millions. Never before has media been so owned and controlled and free speech suppressed. It’s all part of the ‘woke’ culture that makes it impossible to express opposing views for fear of being cancelled, bullied, intimidated and socially excluded. As our waists suffer from the effects of cocacolanisation our minds are suffering from wokacolonisation.
The more we get sucked in to the ‘meta-verse’ the more will be the control of information in this space, and data mining used to sell us more stuff – and the more energy will be consumed. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about a digital downsize.
What does this mean?
What does this mean? I made a choice not to upgrade my i-phone to generation 12, fully equipped with 5G technology, for this reason. Using social media in a focussed, non-addictive way, is another example of slow-tech. Supporting local shops and producers, and not being an Amazon junkie, is another. But, as with all issues, the first step is awareness. Do I really need this new thing, new app, new piece of technology?
In some cases, new technology can enhance our life and even help reduce energy expenditure. Slow tech is not anti-tech. The meta-verse is heading our way, like it or not.
One of my goals this year is to go off grid at our Fforest Barn Retreat, primarily using solar technology, and to make it, as much as possible, a more ‘plastic-free’ zone. Some African countries prohibit entry with plastic bags. The idea is to avoid all single use plastic and take it away with you. Christmas, especially when you have lots of grandchildren, can be an eye opener. There’s just so much plastic! Today’s fashion, to help children’s anxiety, are ‘fidgets’ – bits of soft plastic you press and click, like worry beads. A plastic-free Christmas is a tall ask but that’s where we need to be heading.
My other goal this year is to fix and recycle broken things rather than always buying new stuff, and refill containers rather than buying new ones. Many shops are now providing these kind of options. It’s a new and good habit to buy into. I’m also going to get rid of apps I don’t need or use and go easy on unnecessary digital searching. Just a few ‘accepts’ ends you with half your e-mails as junk, every single one of which is consuming energy.
Recently my computer was in the mac-hospital – nothing too serious, a broken screen – but it gave me time to think about spending more time on things less digital – and I’ve been enjoying it. Here’s a poem I wrote that you might enjoy. It’s called ‘stuff’.
The world is full of stuff
Stuff to dress in, stuff to eat
Stuff to stare at and wear on your feet
Stuff to drink, stuff to smell
Stuff to buy and stuff to sell
Stuff to watch, stuff to puff
How much stuffing is enough?
And where do you stuff all this stuff?
Then you buy some more stuff in which to stuff it
Some are even snuffing out from over stuffing it!
But you can’t take it with you when you snuff it. Life is not about stuff
It’s about living and love. Let go of the stuff. Less is more than enough.