Not-so-green Silicon Valley

Climate Change Action involves Big Tech too

Co-written with youth climate activist Allie Rougeot.

If fossil fuel executives are now losing in the court of public opinion, Big Tech executives are not doing much better in the hearts of climate justice activists.

Big Tech: The Other Extractive Industry — only with Charisma

The relationship between Big Tech and the climate crisis may not be the most obvious. And that’s not a coincidence: Google’s code of conduct stipulated “Don’t be Evil” for years, before updating to “Do The Right Thing” in 2015. Their informal, liberated corporate culture also sent us signals they were a friendly breed of enterprise. Let’s face it, it also helps that their services are free to use!

Fast Tech is like Fast Food: Bad for our Health

Facebook ruling people distracted on screens
Facebook ruling people distracted on screens

Just like uncontrolled climate change, unregulated and unbridled digital change leaves no room for adaptation. “Digital moderation” is the secret to a healthy digital diet, as opposed to “digital binging”.

Solutions to climate change indeed go way beyond plastic bans and recycling. At the core of climate justice lies community empowerment, trustworthy institutions and news sources, as well as efficient democracies. However, under Google and Facebook’s rule, fake news was allowed to spread exponentially. Free video games and apps designed to be highly addictive have generated, ironically, disconnection and more often than not, depression.

Many amongst the most digitally connected individuals have strayed from natural instincts and lost touch with family, community and their physical environment.

digital distraction meme
digital distraction meme

This slowly creeping, tech-enabled isolation has prevented them from feeling a sense of collective interest, and therefore, a need for collective mobilization in this time of crisis. For others, as climate anxiety rises, seeking comfortable refuge in the digital world has led to inaction in the real world.

Greenwashing Big Tech won’t Do, Respecting Citizen Rights will

Climate Justice, once again, demands more than “green tech ideas”, it demands respect for citizens and the public good.

To fully lift the secrecy veil on Big Tech’s impact on the Climate Crisis, let it be known all those “free” videos, photos and smileys consume 4% of world carbon emissions today (more than airline travel) with a trend towards 8% of global emissions in 2025 (1). Companies like Facebook and Google may present a friendly face, but unlike big corporations before them, they should be held accountable now, not after decades go by.

(1) Source: https://theshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-02.pdf

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From Digital Marketing to Digital Well Being. Tech for Good. / Pro du marketing digital passée à la Tech4Good. TechforGoodCanada.com

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