Information and Communication Technology Revolution and Global Warming

Information and Communication Technology Revolution and Global Warming

Pavel Somavat (CCS Haryana Agricultural University, India) and Vinod Namboodiri (Wichita State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1839-8.ch002
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Although the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution is hardly 20 years old, it is already directly influencing the lives of more than two thirds of the global population and has played a prominent role in socio-politico-economical development across the societies. However, over the time the ICT segment has become a major consumer of energy, and therefore, it is rapidly becoming a significant source of greenhouse emissions. All the indicators point towards continued growth in ICT. In this chapter, the authors account for the approximate annual energy consumption and resultant CO2 emissions of this sector. They also account for the indirect environmental effects of rapid proliferation of ICT technologies. This work, therefore, highlights potential areas where increased energy efficient measures are urgently required to ensure sustainable development. The authors also discuss the positive contribution and potential of ICT in curtailing carbon emissions. Towards the end, they summarize various initiatives by the scientific community to ensure energy efficiency and sustainable development. This chapter gives an overview of the extent of the problem, accounts for energy consumption of various ICT sub-segments, and looks into some of the solutions and future directions proposed by researchers to counter this threat.
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Accounting Of Overall Ict Energy Consumption

The accounting of ICT sector energy consumption encompasses three major segments that include Personal Devices, Backbone Networks, and Auxiliary Infrastructure. The following are the main constituents of each segment:

  • 1.

    Personal Computing Devices: The devices segment consists of all the personal computing devices around the globe and combined energy consumption associated with their use. These devices include mobiles phones, desktop computers, and laptops.

  • 2.

    Backbone Networks: This segment consists of Internet infrastructure including all the copper/optical fiber networks and devices like routers, switches, firewalls, repeaters, and hubs, etc. Telecommunication networks include all the Mobile Switching Centers (MSCs), Base Transceiving Stations (BTSs), and corresponding support networks.

  • 3.

    Auxiliary Infrastructure: This segment mainly consists of data centers that are centralized repositories containing data storage and telecommunication equipments and is used for storage, management, and dissemination of data associated with a particular organization, business, or agency. As the demand for information over Internet is rapidly increasing, more and more data centers are being established.

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