Environmental effects of the digital age

I couldn’t find any articles that exactly explained what I was looking for, but I found one that gives a pretty good summary, and there is a really big dispute about the carbon cost of a google search right now.

Essay: http://thayer.dartmouth.edu/~cushman/courses/engs171/eCommerceEmerging.pdf

Google article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/jan/12/carbon-emissions-google

One of the many follow-up articles: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/jan/12/google-carbonfootprints

I don’t really think that anyone is saying we should stop doing google searches, I think it is just making people aware that when they use their computer, for whatever reason, or plug it into the wall, a lot of energy is being used that most people disregard.

I am interested in the environmental effects of the digitalization of information. Surely some resources are being saved by less copies of books or newspapers in print, among other things, but is the Kindle really a better alternative to the book if now it takes energy to read anything and nothing is permanent?

The main question is the effects of the change from an initial input as in the production of the book, to a continual energy input with no initial input, and if we throw all of our “eggs in this basket” or put all of our money and resources into the digital age, will this actually be sustainable?

As technology uses more and more energy, if we one day run out of the many sources of energy we are using right now, will we be back to ground zero, with few means of entertainment or business not directly tied to the use of the internet and technology?

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