Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

10 Green Heresies – According to Wired (Part I)

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Wired magazine devotes its June cover to the thesis that when it comes to environmentalism: “only one thing matters: cutting carbon.”

The article “Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green” proposes “10 Green Heresies”, such as “Live in Cities” and “A/C is OK.” To their credit, they include a rebuttal, and here is another at ecogeek.

Given our focus on “computerizing green,” what’s the role of IT in each of these 10 heresies? Here’s a quick take on the first five.

1. Live in Cities
Changing the live/work geography is enabled by telecommuting 2.0, using Skype, SecondLife, etc. Role of IT: High.

2. A/C is OK
Better measurement of electricity use provides feedback to users and positive incentive to lower usage. (see my earlier post on this). Role of IT: High.

3. Organics are not the Answer
IT can improve the yield of both mechanized and local farming in terms of measuring inputs and outputs, modeling crop yield, etc. Role of IT: Modest.

4. Farm the Forest
Role of IT in harvesting more timber in the US includes automating wood production processes: Role of IT: Modest. (if you’re really interested, this recently published paper has a section on the information requirements of the wood products industry)

5. China is the Solution
China produces 35% of photovoltaics and is emerging as a leading producer of other green hardware such as wind turbines. IT enables global supply chains. IT is embedded in solar and other hardware systems to track efficiency. Role of IT: High.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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