Our Renewable Future

Technology and Communications

Modern communications systems send information across vast distances in massive quantities at breathtaking speeds. Every sector of the economy depends on the capture, access, and rapid transmission of information: from stock market quotes to weather forecasts; from orders for replacement parts for the electricity grid to requisitions for restocking supermarket shelves. End-use communications devices such as computers, phones, televisions, and radios rely upon behind-the-scenes infrastructures of wires, fiber-optic cables, routers, servers, broadcasting stations and antennae, and cell towers. All of this technology represents embodied energy and requires operational energy.

The transition to 100% renewable energy thus raises some profound questions for the future of technology and communications. For instance:

  • Can we make technology that’s carbon neutral? What would that look like? Would we still be replacing it with a new model every few years?
  • How can we substitute the direct inputs of oil and natural gas in the manufacturing of technology devices?
  • How can we source the thousands of raw metals and other elements that go into the formation of technology components, without the use of fossil fuels?
  • How will technology companies (and other businesses reliant on constantly evolving technology) shift their business models away from planned obsolescence?
  • How can renewable energy technology, itself, be entirely self-supported?
  • What companies are doing the best job of reducing carbon emissions and toxic waste in manufacturing electronics?
  • What nations or communities are doing the most to make modern communications climate-friendly?

Live Discussion: Technology and Communications After Fossil Fuels

On August 17, 2016 Asher Miller from Post Carbon Institute was joined by Douglas Rushkoff, recent author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Casey Harrell of Citizen’s Engagement Lab’s Climate Lab and Richard Heinberg (also of Post Carbon Institute) for an engaging, compelling conversation about what the future of technology and communication might look like in a 100% renewable energy future, The recording can be viewed below.