I am a huge advocate of “Greening the world.” I know that at some level there will be carbon being generated when using the computer; the manufacture of parts, assembly, delivery, and usage, but the balance and savings to manual labor, paper usage (yes, I know we still all print off everything), and productivity has increased. I hate that many of the computers end up in the landfills when so many non-profit agencies can still use the word programs to teach students to type, and the computers can be recycled, but again I do stand on the side of the computers as the balance we needed to increase knowledge and productivity around the world.
I will give you a personal example; I grew up in the middle of no-where on a farm. We had no TV growing up, and the library was 30 minutes away (for a hard working farm family that was forever away), so I did not get the exposure to the world which I should have gotten. There are still people in my town who don’t know anything outside the county limits. But, when I got my very own first computer in 1996, I hooked up to the internet, and have never looked back. I looked up everything I could for about a week. Even in 1996, I could bring up Martin Luther’s “I have a Dream Speech”, or search for the pyramids of Egypt. I could do all of this with two kids asleep, or cooking supper. The information available on computers is such a wonderful thing I can’t even express it. If I were a rich person, I would give a computer and the internet to every family in my home town.
Computer Access in Africa has helped women obtain jobs, and more women are divorcing abusive men due to the social programs they find on the internet. Plus, medical care is becoming more available in rural areas due to computers and the internet. The CDC is using tribal leaders and small computers to track diseases to the very first case.
@Srinidhi – I know there is a lot of carbon associated with computers. That is a fact that cannot be denied. But, besides the social problems that are being figured out on a daily basis, I also think about the books that don’t have to be created every year (remember the stacks and stacks of encyclopedias we no longer need), and the trucks to bring those books to every school and library across the country, and the kids in small rural schools who can’t afford books but they hit Google and the world is their oyster! When I was a teacher, to a group of rural troubled kids living in poverty, I would have the kids in the computer lab as often as possible. It opened their eyes to a whole new world away from crime, poverty, and drugs. I was told by a few students they only graduated high school due to me giving them hope of a future.
I agree, yes, carbon and waste from big computer companies (and Google) is an issue, which needs to be addressed, but I am so happy the carbon they produce does do so much good for the world.
To answer the topic question; yes I believe I am saving the planet when I purchase a PC.
Here are some simple ways to save the planet a little more by reducing the carbon footprint of computers;
1. Sleep mode as often as possible (Andy, if I have a huge amount of things open at night, I drag the links to a folder on my desktop and open the folder in the morning to see where I was)
2. Delete all information from your computer and give the computers to a non-profit agency. Eeven though the computer is too old to get on the net, it is still a very good word computer to teach computer skills and typing. Plus, using old computers gives new students confidence; If the new students crash an old computer it is not a big deal.
3. Turn the computer into a recycle or refurbish program. So yours is old and does not work; someone can use your parts and make a good one for rural schools.