During the months of October and November, the Green European Foundation, La Casa Encendida and Transición Verde have carried out a three-session series entitled “The dark side of the cloud. The environmental impact of the virtual” in which we have tried to highlight the complexity of the digital world and its social and environmental impacts. Knowledge and awareness of what these impacts imply will allow us trying to achieve a digital transition that is more respectful of the environment and people and more durable over time and, on an individual level, to make a more conscious and responsible use of technology.
We have had national and international experts who have accompanied us throughout these sessions with their accurate analyses and proposals; they have shown us the physical reality of the digital universe and its dangerous implications in a challenging context of environmental and energy crisis and scarcity of raw materials; and they have put on the table different formulas that would help us to make a more rational use of technology, taking into account the inevitable physical limits of the planet.
· The first session “Feeding the Beast Part I: Infrastructure, Water and Minerals” took place on 20 October. Here we reflected on the virtuality of the cloud with Serbian artist and professor Vladan Joler; researcher Alicia Valero outlined the reality of mineral resources and their limits; consultant Lorraine de Montenay presented the results of the report “Digital technologies in Europe: a life-cycle environmental approach”. Finally, Argentinean researcher Melisa Argento showed us the impacts of lithium mining in the so-called “Lithium Triangle”. The moderator was journalist and Transición Verde board member Cárol García.
· The second session, “Feeding the Beast Part II: Data and Energy”, took place on 27 October and featured US historian Joseph Tainter, who immersed us in a deep reflection on the complexity and future of innovation. We were also joined by geologist Antonio Aretxabala with the talk “Revolution of data centres, 5G, energy and geology”. Finally, energy specialist María Alegre helped us to understand the complex world of cryptocurrencies and their impacts. The journalist Rosa M. Tristán was in charge of the moderation.
· On 3 November we ended the series with the session “The bright side of the cloud. The digitalisation we want” in which our speakers presented positive experiences of digital technologies and proposals to improve their efficiency and responsible use. Coral Calero, Professor of Computer Languages and Systems at the UCLM, explained the importance of software in our society, its impact and the research and advances that the Alarcos Group is making to improve its efficiency. The Argentinean researcher Julieta Arancio spoke about open tools and their importance in the democratisation of knowledge and the ecological transition. Finally, Green/EFA MEP Kim van Sparrentak analysed EU strategies and policies on the digital transition and presented Green proposals on the issue.
Other links of interest:
- Share Lab (Vladan Joler): https://labs.rs/en/
- Report on the impacts of digital technologies in the EU: http://extranet.greens-efa-service.eu/public/media/file/1/7388
- About data centres (in Spanish): https://www.xataka.com/pro/amazon-google-microsoft-tienen-mitad-600-centros-datos-cloud-que-hay-mundo
- Green Team Alarcos: https://greenteamalarcos.uclm.es/
- Twitter user: @greentalarcos
- Foro GOSH: forum.openhardware.science
- Red Latinoamericana (in Spanish): regosh.libres.cc
- Link al microscopio: openflexure.org
- Labo Agroeco abierto (in Spanish): https://regosh.libres.cc/proyectos/lab-agroeco-abierto/
- Bongotech makerspace en Tanzania: https://btech.co.tz/
- Tech4Trade en Nairobi: https://www.techfortrade.org/
- Low-Tech Magazine: https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/about.html
- Fairphone: http://www.fairphone.com/
- Cable USB: https://syllucid.com/
On behalf of the Green European Foundation and Transición Verde we would like to thank all those who registered for the series and those who attended the sessions and actively participated with their questions and comments via the chat, providing dynamism and helping to deepen the topics.