maps

The Carbon Footprint of the Digital World

icon ecological footprint

In this blog two thoughts on how we as individuals can reduce our digital carbon footprint. Maybe this can be used to challenge ourselves, students and colleagues for more ideas. We start with a few facts.

Data centers are responsible for as much CO2 emission as all air traffic (2019). The communications industry is on track to generate more carbon emissions than the automotive, aviation and energy sector together. Data use doubles every four years (Computerworld  Aug. 9, 2019).

The energy consumption of data centers is estimated to be 3.2 % of the total worldwide carbon emissions by 2025 and responsible for a fifth of global electricity consumption. By 2040, storing digital data is set to create 14 % of the world’s emissions. Electricity worldwide is mostly generated using fossil fuels. Some claim that renewable energy could be a solution, but this is a sham. Renewable energy to fuel these data centers is energy that cannot be used for other sectors. So-called renewable energy based on pulp from production forests is only CO2 neutral when looking at a period of 80 years, and that is not the timeline we can afford us now. Pulp plantations often replaced rich ecosystems. Renewable energy such as biofuel often displaces crop production farther into threatened forests, savannahs and peatland. Only a very small portion of biofuel comes from waste fats from the food industry (greenpeace.org).

40% of the energy use in data centers is used for cooling. The industry itself could safe on this part of the energy consumption by moving data centers to cold places, such as Siberia. But what can we do?

We could delete old files that are stored in the cloud, such as e-mail messages, photo’s, videos etc. We and employers should consider to stay away from cloud services. Maybe not so easy, but the easiest solution is not always the best for our planet.   

If all US citizens using email deleted 500 e-mail messages which reside in Spam box, Trash bin, or Unread messages, this would save energy use amounting to 33.000 million kilowatt-hours. This equals 3.700 million liter gasoline.

Picture of email and Trash bin. Arrow to indicate that email should be moved to the Trash bin.
Delete as many emails as possible. Empty your Trash bin.

If everyone around the world deleted 10 emails (spam or not spam), this would result in deleting 1,725,00 GB, because storing 1GB emails (or 1000 emails) takes 32 kWh. Consequently, this would save 55.2 million kWh (Good Planet & RESET).  

So imagine how much energy would be saved if everyone deleted 10 emails every day?

The map above shows that China is the country with by far most CO2 emission (Our World in Data). So, what can we do about this? One of the reasons is that energy production in China is still mostly relying on burning coal. Another reason is that China produces many products for the rest of the world. How many of these products (plastic toys, cheap clothes, gadgets …) do we really need? And which products can be produced elsewhere with less pollution, less CO2 emission, less transport costs, and under better worker conditions?

Amazing maps

The website FarandWide offers blogs maps on a wide variety of topics. Although the website is targeting US citizens who wish to travel, there are interesting topics that may be used by curious person. Particularly interesting are the many sets of maps available: geographical, social, political, historic, current social issues etc.

100 Amazing World Maps

Maps that changed the world

Recently a set of 75 maps were published with data on European countries that may be of interest when travelling. Most maps show when the data were gathered, though with some maps this information is missing. Though this can be a good exercise for students to look at data and information on the web critically.

Maps that show Europe in a new light

Wrong Historical Maps

Two examples of Maps that made us laugh and could be inspiration for students to search for or make their own maps.

See our other blogs on Maps for example: Critical on Maps and Maps of the World

Critical on Maps

Rotating globe
Why all maps of the world are wrong. Or in other words: Why do all maps of the world present a wrong, distorted image.

Why do we use maps? How can we present the globe in two dimensions? What challenges do we face?

Start with one of the first two videos and then move on to the second one. The latter is spoken fast and uses a wide, scientific vocabulary.


The only correct representation of the world is a globe. Every projection serves a specific purpose. It’s interesting to explore the different projections and their use and purpose throughout history. It appears that projections and perpectives change over time and place and are culturally bound.

To get a good impression use the tool ‘The True Size. This tool makes it possible to drag a chosen country over the world and compare its (true) size with that of other countries. Visit the website  https://thetruesize.com

This topic can be addressed from many different angles: geography, politics. history, mathematics, ethics….

World Atlas App

logo atlas AppThe World Atlas App is a comprehensive educational app for geography. Position maps, flags, and data for more than 240 countries and territories of the world are available. Data from wikipedia is attached to the App. The App is suitable for secondary and higher education students.

The free edition offers political maps with regional units and comprehensive economic and statistical country data for all African countries.  For extensive information on all countries in the world and for the complete Quiz function, the full version must be purchased.

See also Maps of the World,which is more suitable for primary and lower secondary students.

 

 Purchase  Basic version : Free

 Full version :  $ 4.00  (approx.)

 Hardware  iPhone, iPad, Google Play/Android
 Requirements  iOS 9.0 or later, Android 4.1 or higher

Maps of the World App

Maps of our World App describes itself as a geography quiz. yet, the App is more than a quiz, it is a training tool on topographic features such as countries, capitals, other major cities and rivers.ains etc. In addition it shows information on countries. The maps are highly clickable. The free version is very useful, shows mainly political maps, and is so far free from advertisements. The full package offers fysiological maps as well.

Many Apps that claim to offer World Maps have a strong focus on the USA. The App Maps of our World is a genuine tool for more than just the USA.

It ia a user friendly App which is a great tool for primary and lower-secondary students to train there knowledge on the position of countries and cities in the world and some main features.

For more extensive geographic information see the World Atlas App.

 Purchase  Basic version : Free

 Full package :  $ 12.99

 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 9.0 or later