Dear Greta,

After centuries of too many white people not seeing racism, smartphones’ cameras have made it undeniably visible. Without smartphones, we probably would not know about the murder of George Floyd. Without social media, your school strike might not have started an international movement.

I write this letter to you—and to everyone committed to reducing climate change and ecological harms. Without the Internet, I doubt that it would reach you. Read more #1 Dreaming of a Visible Internet Footprint 

Q: Name three of the Internet’s main energy guzzlers.
A: Embodied energy. This is the energy used to design a product, extract and refine its raw materials, prepare and ship every necessary substance through its supply chain, then manufacture and ship every finished device and infrastructure part to its end-user.

Access networks. An access network provides internationally deployed infrastructure including cellular sites, fiber optics cables, copper legacy wires, satellites, battery backups. antennas and routers…so that users can access cellular and Internet services. #2 Test Your Internet Footprint IQ 

Dear Greta,

In 2018, when I met Soumya Dutta, co-founder of India Climate Justice, he spelled out my privileges as a U.S. American. (I think you know what he shared, but I did not.) “In the twentieth century,” Mr. Dutta explained, “the human population increased four-fold, from 1.6 to 6.1 billion people. During the same time, global energy consumption increased between twelve and sixteen-fold.[1,] [2] Whenever one unit of energy is produced and consumed, water, land and other bio-resources are also consumed; and hazardous waste is generated. In other words, because of cars, electricity, air conditioning and televisions, the average person now uses over four times the amount of natural resources that our grandparents consumed. Meanwhile, in 2020, six billion more of us are alive.” Read more at #3 Behind Our Screens: An invitation to learn a smartphone’s true costs 

Dear Greta,

I’ve been a geek from the age of ten, when I started using and programming some of the first personal computers. I am 47 now. I am an engineer because I love technology, but living beings and nature also mean very much to me. I’m married, and I have three children, including two teenagers.

I was very lucky to be raised in a caring family with good values, however my parents did not teach me to think about the environment. At school, our planet’s future was never discussed, either. Meanwhile, I inherited my uncle’s passion for science and technology. I have always loved electronics, space exploration, astronomy, robots and supercomputers. Technology and science never bore me. (Chemistry does—nobody’s perfect.) Technology drives my will to understand and improve the world. Seeing the miracles that people can achieve when technology is used well gives me comfort.

Read more at #4 A geek researches 5G and discovers how he contributes to climate change 

Dear Greta,

You know how manufacturers promote electric vehicles (EVs) because they have “zero-emissions?” I wonder if this is really true.

Evaluations of any vehicle’s ecological impacts usually don’t reach from cradle to grave. They focus on the car’s energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while it operates.[1] Most evaluations do not include embodied energy or emissions—what’s used and emitted during manufacturing. They do not count GHGs or toxins emitted while extracting and smelting ores, producing the vehicle’s electronics, lubricants, brake fluid, solvents, body and tires. Evaluations do not count what is emitted while designing, forming, cutting and bending metals and plastics…and transporting materials between stations. They don’t count miners’ or assembly workers hazards. They don’t count the ecological and public health impacts of vehicle maintenance, repair, disposal or recycling.

Read more at #5 Proposing Cradle-to-Grave Evaluations for All Vehicles 

Dear Greta,

Last September, European Union President Ursula Von der Leyen announced that by 2030, she wants Europe carbon-neutral, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 55%, and to spearhead a digital revolution. In the U.S. that same month, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will reduce its GHGs by prohibiting sales of new gas-powered vehicles beginning in 2035.

I certainly welcome GHG reductions. But Von der Leyen and Newsom’s policies simply make way for manufacturers to continue making electric vehicles [EVs], smartphones, rooftop solar systems, televisions, air conditioners, etc.—and for privileged consumers to buy them–without consideration of these products’ cradle-to-grave environmental impacts. Because these policies do not count GHGs or toxins emitted during extraction, manufacturing or disposal, they fail to recognize that GHGs are global phenomena, emitted during production of the goods many of us consider “green.”

Read more at #6 Defining “carbon neutrality” before enacting new policies 

Dear Greta,

In August 2020, Huawei published a white paper called Green 5G: Building a Sustainable World.[1] (Huawei is the Chinese telecom corporation that has begun installing 5G infrastructure internationally.) The report claims that 5G can have a significant positive effect on climate by increasing energy efficiency and enabling industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reach their climate targets.

Before I discuss Huawei’s report, let me first acknowledge how complex our world has become, even for engineers like me who love figuring out how things work. Writing this letter, I aim to decipher some controversies about 5G and its implications for climate change. I will do my best to stick to essential matters. If you think this letter is absurdly detailed and technical, you’d be right. But please bear with me. In response to Huawei’s unproven claims, we need technical detail. Read more at #7 Green 5G or red alert? 

Dear Greta,

When Wall Street International asked me to write this column, I thought of you. You stand with people who seek a livable future, a healthier balance between nature and technology.

You call yourself a communicator, not an expert. I do not consider myself an expert, either. I’m a writer. I learn about life by asking questions and writing about what I learn. In the last 25 years, I’ve talked nearly every day with scientists and engineers who patiently respond to my questions. These conversations have changed my thinking about technology’s impacts on nature. I want to share what I’ve learned, and these letters give me a place to do so.

Read more at #8 A brief history of electricity and telecommunications 

Dear Greta,

We could say that we have a consuming love affair with electronics.

Our digital society consumes extraordinary amounts of energy and extracted ores. One smartphone contains more than 1000 different substances, each with its own energy-intensive, toxic waste and greenhouse gas-emitting supply chain. [1] In his 2015 paper, “On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology,” Huawei consultant Anders Andrae predicted that by 2030, info-communications-technologies could consume 51% of global electricity and emit 23% of greenhouse gases. Globally, we discard 53.6 million metric tons of electronics every year. [2]

To reduce this love story’s destructive parts, to live within our ecological means, we need to respect nature more and decrease our dependence on technology. How on Earth do we do that?

Read more at #9 How to revise our consuming love affair with electronics Source: Environmental Health Trust