High Tech Doesn't Need to Cost the Environment

The high tech space

In the last 100 years, the Earth has been subjected to what can only be described as an onslaught of attacks from a variety of angles.

Ranging from the gradual acidification of the oceans, the dramatic uptick in the release of greenhouse gas emissions, rampant deforestation, and rising global sea levels, the world is suffering the consequences of the rapid innovation and progress across most industries.

The high tech space, in particular, has been subject to much of the scrutiny surrounding climate change since its both one of the biggest consumers of natural resources and responsible for the gradual depletion of rare minerals and metals.

Indeed, the electric vehicle and battery industries alone are making lithium increasingly scarce, while the semiconductor industry consumes huge amounts of water and energy for every chip made.

But things are starting to turn around. More and more prominent firms in the tech space are beginning to not only recognize and react to their impact on the environment but are taking proactive steps to help make the process easier for others.

Earlier this year, the CEOs of 26 prominent tech firms, including the likes of Microsoft, IBM, Ericsson, Vodafone, and Bolt, pledged to contribute to the development of greener digital technologies and services to help reduce their impact on the environment in the coming years.

This includes increasing their lobbying efforts to promote green tech and energy solutions, as well as directly investing in some of the firms tackling the challenges at its roots — such as those working on carbon capture, cloud, and climate repair technologies.

Likewise, many big tech firms are beginning to rethink their business models and resource usage, and are ramping up spending on efforts to boost efficiency in their supply chains and reduce or mitigate their impact on the environment.

Online retail giant Amazon is on track to power 100% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025 and is now the world's largest renewable energy buyer among corporations. While Google is set to power all of its data centers and campuses with completely carbon-free power by 2030. Even smaller tech firms are being urged to step up to the challenge, thanks to the surging demand for clean and green products among consumers.

Firms at the very cutting edge of technology are also beginning to contribute to tackling the global problem that is climate change. This includes firms building in the burgeoning blockchain industry — which is filled with potentially disruptive new technologies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as a range of applications that form the growing decentralized finance (DeFi) space.

Often criticized as incredibly energy-intensive and damaging to the environment, the merits and promise of blockchain technology have been somewhat dismissed recently. But now, a new wave of blockchain-enabled products is beginning to demonstrate how the technology can be used for good.

This includes Popcorn, a platform that enables users to automatically generate a high yield on their cryptocurrencies, while simultaneously helping to fund organizations that do good — such as charities focused on environmental efforts and renewable energy foundations. It achieves this by directing a large chunk of its fees to non-profits that do social good while offsetting its own carbon emissions through its partnerships with carbon sequestration and offset projects.

With big tech and SMEs alike increasingly recognizing the need to take action against climate change, we are inching closer to a world where building and using the latest technologies and innovations no longer comes at the cost of the environment.