“Green” Apps: A Contradiction in Terms

Apparently green apps {epa.gov} are a thing. They may help you find recycling locations in Chicago, set up a carpool, locate the closest farmers’ market, or allow you to calculate your carbon footprint.

But one thing these apps don’t factor into their calculations is the emissions created by people simply using said apps.

Psychology Today helpfully draws our attention to this contradiction:

For all the good intentions behind the green app explosion, there’s a big contradiction in their deployment: namely, increases in green app usage—the basis of a green mobile lifestyle—inevitably increase electricity usage. And no app can address the two main forces that sustain this contradiction: the number of consumers linked to broadband mobile and landline networks continues to grow at astounding rates; and with that growth, comes increasing dependency on conventional energy production to power mobile communication.

I don’t know why Psychology Today is picking on green apps. The vast amount of energy used by our devices to access data in the cloud has been well documented {tech pundit}:

Using a [tablet or smartphone] to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year.

That’s the lead story, not green apps. We’ve witnessed an app and smartphone explosion {nielsen}—period—over the past several years. To call out green apps in particular is unfair, distracting, and irrelevant.

Google Isn’t Always Evil

This is really cool:

Google is trying out one way of mapping climate change. It has outfitted a few of its Street View cars with special sensors to measure methane… the primary ingredient in natural gas. It’s part of a partnership between Google and the Environment Defense Fund that’s finding leaks in the thousands of miles of gas mains beneath streets in New York and other cities.

Google Experiments With Mapping Climate Change {npr}

Rainforest Extortion

Crazy-interesting story about a plan Ecuador has to get money from developed countries in exchange for not drilling for oil.

“He proposed that we want to keep the oil there,” says Ivonne A-Baki, who works for Ecuador’s government. “What we need in exchange is compensation.”

These days, A-Baki is traveling the world, asking for contributions. She chooses her words carefully. Still, the pitch runs the risk of sounding a bit like blackmail.

“The joke we always used to always talk about was, you know, ‘Give me the money or I’ll shoot the trees,’ ” says Billy Pizer, a former deputy assistant secretary for environment and energy under President Obama.

Definitely worth a listen: “Give Me the Money or I’ll Shoot the Trees” {planet money}.

Where TVs go after they die

Electronic waste dumped in residential area just outside of Alaba market in Lagos. This e-waste is routinely burned here.

Check out an excellent interview with Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

In the interview, Puckett explains why certain toxic components of our devices are un-recycleable, and how 80% of techno-waste that U.S. consumers take to a recycling center ends up in  China, Nigeria, India, Vietnam and Pakistan. Needless to say, the toxic stuff stays toxic, and causes great harm to the workers and residents of those countries.