What if digital pollution wasn’t a fatality?

Digital technology is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Or an environmental footprint comparable to that of much-criticized and media-heavy air travel

! If nothing is done to discipline it, digital pollution could surpass even the emissions produced by cars… In Rennes, we are campaigning for the concept of “nanosites”. The explanations.

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5 minutes

What are we talking about?

It is not easy to determine the exact extent of the problem! It must be said that the objects of the criminal offense are numerous… And the methods of calculation are, at least, random…” Launching an online application, archiving a professional email, watching your favorite series on Netflix… All these uses contribute to our digital footprint. The cloud is anything but virtual! », instructively explains Frédéric Pineau, technical director of Artwaï, a web agency based in Rennes. ” The problem lies in the fact that over time, our uses are only intensifying, even if there are still white areas in France and part of humanity is still not connected… »

From the assessment side, there are still many parameters that must be taken into consideration such as equipment inventory, associated flows, consumed electricity…” But it is also necessary to assess the impact of production, daily use, as well as end of life. And it works pretty much the same for devices as it does for streams.

Should we be worried?

It’s time… Three figures to convince. The hidden face of digital is 4.1 billion users, 19 billion connected devices (48 forecast in 2025) and more than 67 million servers worldwide. Dizzy! Especially since the threat is invisible. And therein lies the main danger. In his book, Digital hell. Journey after a like, (ed. Connections that liberate, 2021), journalist Guillaume Pitron debunks the myth of ” ease of networking and ensures that digital pollution is far from trivial. For him, the latter would even have a color (pale green, corresponding to the cables of submarines sliding on the bottom of the oceans), a sound (that of all its servers whistling strangely like a beehive), a taste (that of seawater) and even a texture (that of the rough rock from which graphite is extracted to make mobile phones) (2). not to mention ” blood minerals (tungsten, tin, tantalum, gold) and toxic waste from e-waste escaping the recycling channels.

Is there a solution?

Yes of course! And it starts with… not just changing the bandage anymore. Greenpeace, for its part, identifies several levers for action. His priorities? Fight against planned obsolescence (and therefore favor the purchase of refurbished devices), limit the playback of very high definition videos, stop the use of devices connected to your home or even stop the advertising video screens that colonize our cities. In addition, the NGO recommends systematically turning off the Internet box at night and during your vacations.

Other good news: the approval, in France, of the Reen law (2) in November 2021. The latter aims, in particular, to raise public awareness of future challenges, limit the renewal of digital devices, develop ecologically virtuous digital uses, promote the prudence of data centers and, finally, to promote responsible digital strategies in communities. Extensive program.

What is responsible digital?

The big trend is responsive digital. In business and in the community. ” We are at the beginning of the movement, but the trend will accelerate in the coming months

“, says Aurélien Pasquier, director of the Everest agency specializing in eco-design of websites. His recipe? Nanosite. ” On the surface, it’s a site like any other. In other words, elegant in terms of design and efficient in terms of layout… The only difference: it emits up to 10 times less greenhouse gas than a traditional website! “The secret?” With an average size of only 300KB per page (seven times less than the world average), our nanosites are much lighter than traditional sites. »

The icing on the cake, nanosite is also compatible with terminals (especially smartphones) that are dated and accessible even with low-speed connections. Frédéric Pineau, who participated in the writing of the collective work Eco-web design, 100 best practices (ed. Eyrolles), confirms: The resulting advantages of eco-design are huge: less maintenance, better reference, reduced loading time… It’s not just about playing with the weight of photos and videos, but thinking about the content and having the will to communicate less okay. to communicate better. »

What is my site footprint?

To find out, nothing could be simpler, with Ecoindex. It evaluates the environmental performance of a website by analyzing three technical criteria which are servers, networks and the consultation terminal.

> According to a study conducted by five aeronautics researchers from the Isae-Supaéro school in Toulouse, air transport is responsible for 2 to 3% of greenhouse gas emissions and 5 to 6% of the climate impact of human activities. According to a report by the European Environment Agency, transport was responsible for around a quarter of the EU’s total CO2 emissions in 2019, 60% of which were produced by personal cars.

(1) To learn more, read his interview on page e Novethic.fr

(2) The Reen Act aims to control the impact and environmental footprint of digital technology.

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