Technology has not always had a good reputation for big tech whenever climate and environmental responsibility are involved. Additionally, the expanding mass of electronic garbage proves our insatiable demand for new devices, as is the mining for rare earth materials that is leaving its mark on the environment.
However, things are beginning to change. Major corporations are supporting initiatives that reduce their environmental impact and help them be eco-friendly and mindful. Examples include Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
If you’ve ever wondered how your digital habits affect the environment, I have some information for you: Facebook’s 2.85 billion users generate 12 grams of carbon dioxide per year. Facebook’s energy consumption is more than ten times what it was a decade ago, making it one of the world’s largest consumers.
Big Tech Oil Production
Big oil has had a very successful summer. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. reported record earnings as oil prices rose. Furthermore, the oil and gas industries have benefited from concessions in the new US climate bill. In addition, Microsoft, Amazon, and other cloud-services providers are increasingly providing computational capacity for the oil majors’ efforts to discover and produce more oil and natural gas.
Globally, the technology industry is responsible for between 2% and 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, at this week’s COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the focus has been on traditional manufacturing and transportation sectors rather than on the impact of emerging technology and the climate price of the convenience we’ve come to rely on.
For example, Amazon cannot ship its billions of things worldwide without using fuel-consuming planes and vehicles. Earlier this year, the company purchased 11 planes to speed up customer delivery. Amazon reported that its operations released 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, the same as burning 140 million barrels of oil. This is a 69% increase from the previous year.
Big Tech Supports a Big Oil Pump
Exxon is using Microsoft to evaluate reams of oil field data, among other things. Amazon uses simulations to determine how many oil drillers can pump from existing wells. It’s an embarrassing appearance for businesses that have pledged to reduce their emissions.
While Amazon has stated that it will eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2040, Microsoft has stated that it will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits by 2030.
The tech behemoths began courting oil companies a few years ago, hoping to gain business from a profitable but technologically aging industry. The prospect of potentially revealing vital trade secrets, such as well-test data, makes oil executives wary of storing data in the cloud.
However, Microsoft and Amazon have changed how they discuss their collaboration with the oil industry. Following employee outcry, Google 2020 promised to discontinue offering machine learning technologies for oil exploration, ceding the market to competitors.
The Report, Oil in the Cloud,
A new Greenpeace USA report, published on May 19, 2020, shows how Silicon Valley is assisting Big Oil in exacerbating the climate crisis. The study revealed how the world’s largest cloud providers help oil companies with the exploration, extraction, refinement, and distribution of oil and gas.
Amazon, Google, and Microsoft profit from lucrative deals for oil and gas firms’ cloud computing and other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, in addition to undermining their climate change goals. Because the carbon emissions from these contracts are no longer included in the carbon reporting of tech firms, the effects of their technology on our changing climate remain unknown.
Major technology companies generate billions of dollars in revenue from the oil and gas industry. However, none of the technology companies provided environmental data, such as the carbon emissions associated with these contracts. The top three cloud providers must publicly declare that they will no longer provide services to the oil and gas industry for the exploration, extraction, refining, or distribution of fossil fuels.
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