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Dematerialization through electronic media?


Coroama, Vlad C; Moberg, Åsa; Hilty, Lorenz (2015). Dematerialization through electronic media? In: Hilty, Lorenz; Aebischer, Bernard. ICT Innovations for Sustainability. Cham: Springer, 405-421.

Abstract

While the traditional roles of the computer as a machine for scientific calculations, text editing, and graphic design are still significant, computers are increasingly perceived as means of accessing information and interacting with other people – i.e., as electronic media. The aim of this chapter is to analyze digital electronic media and their effects on environmental sustainability. Two fields of application are addressed: electronic media that may replace or augment traditional print media such as newspapers or magazines, and videoconferencing as a potential substitute for traveling to a face-to-face meeting or conference. In both cases, the environmental costs of the electronic media are compared to those of their conventional counterparts. The examples show that electronic media can represent an energy-efficient alternative to traditional activities such as long-distance travel. But they can also be added on top of existing activities instead of replacing them. In such cases, a net increase in the environmental impact results. The availability of small, energy-efficient devices being used as electronic media does not guarantee dematerialization. The overall resource use and emissions throughout the life cycle of the media product systems and, more importantly, at the macro level of total global production and consumption need to be considered. To achieve the dematerialization potential of new electronic media solutions, their efficiency needs to be combined with sufficiency; thus additional measures are necessary to turn the dematerialization potential of electronic media into environmental relief.

Abstract

While the traditional roles of the computer as a machine for scientific calculations, text editing, and graphic design are still significant, computers are increasingly perceived as means of accessing information and interacting with other people – i.e., as electronic media. The aim of this chapter is to analyze digital electronic media and their effects on environmental sustainability. Two fields of application are addressed: electronic media that may replace or augment traditional print media such as newspapers or magazines, and videoconferencing as a potential substitute for traveling to a face-to-face meeting or conference. In both cases, the environmental costs of the electronic media are compared to those of their conventional counterparts. The examples show that electronic media can represent an energy-efficient alternative to traditional activities such as long-distance travel. But they can also be added on top of existing activities instead of replacing them. In such cases, a net increase in the environmental impact results. The availability of small, energy-efficient devices being used as electronic media does not guarantee dematerialization. The overall resource use and emissions throughout the life cycle of the media product systems and, more importantly, at the macro level of total global production and consumption need to be considered. To achieve the dematerialization potential of new electronic media solutions, their efficiency needs to be combined with sufficiency; thus additional measures are necessary to turn the dematerialization potential of electronic media into environmental relief.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:27 Mar 2015 15:45
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 12:39
Publisher:Springer
Series Name:Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
Number:310
ISSN:2194-5357
ISBN:978-3-319-09227-0 (P) 978-3-319-09228-7 (E)
Additional Information:The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09228-7_24
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09228-7_24
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:10289

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