04/12/18
Editorial Insights
Environmental

Fake trees still aren’t as good as the real thing

    

Image ©: Moco ChocoClimate change gets everyone talking about what to cut out, reduce, or remove from our current systems to achieve some level of improvement. And often, when faced with a massive problem, like climate change, we turn to what we can create or design as an answer. But technology shouldn’t be the only thing we turn to.

Technology as it relates to nature

The truth of the matter is that technology—and technological solutions to these problems caused by technology—is incongruent with nature. Without being overly simplistic: processors and OLED screens simply aren’t natural. And it’s that very element that makes them hazardous waste when it comes time to disposition them.

In addition to being different from nature, technology is also not intrinsically sustainable. Nature, as a matter of fact, has done a good job of maintaining the climate for eons in a sustainable way. If anything, more trees is a better answer to climate change than something in place of them. And yet, in the face of the alarming rise of global temperatures, many people turn to what we can create as an answer.

The benefit of trees is limitless

Think of a majestic oak towering over a grassy hill in Central Park. What do you see? Shade? A home for birds and animals? Yes. But, there is also the spiritual-psychological connection we all crave with nature that we can’t see. Along with carbon-consuming biofiltration and oxygen production (and they even serve to calm traffic). Indeed, trees are a great answer to the problem of climate change and metropolitan air pollution.

So, why then do we race to something man-made for a way to combat air-quality concerns? Is it that mystical quality of technology (that we’ve talked about on this blog) we see with interconnected devices and sleek designs? Perhaps there is a greater sense of control over something simply because we can write an algorithm for it, or hyper-link it to the internet. Of course, recent news is showing that we actually have less control over the tech we use than we think.

The cost of technology is often high

Another aspect of looking away from natural solutions in this technological age is thImage ©: DeZeene element of cost. To create the CityTree, for instance, has a significant cost. And not just with materials and labor, either. There’s the invisible water table with things manufactured, along with the environmental cost of concrete to consider. Also tied to technology is the unfortunate upgraded treadmill everything is on. In a few years, the OS of the CityTree will require an upgraded—and potentially new hardware; more cost.

When viewed through this lens of sustainability, the technological solution often times becomes less desirable than natural alternatives. And that’s not to say it has to be trees, specifically. There are examples of building exteriors or green roofs that serve the same purpose, only with even more beauty than something largely manufactured.

Why is this important for the Dosage?

If you’ve attended this blog for any length of time, you know that we discuss environmental responsibility of business’s ITAM (IT Asset Management) processes, and—as an extrapolation—the environmental aspect of technology. So, when we see something that embodies the mis-step from being responsible with technology and not, we zero in on that.

The CityTree serves as a good example of this kind of mis-step. It attempts to merge the natural with technology in an effort to combat the smog and environmental load of larger cities. But it overshot the mark. Technology should be considered completely—from its inception to its disposition—for its users to see the environmental impact it makes.

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