I have just had the pleasure of appearing on Radio 4's Click On programme as part of a discussion on the merits of Green IT.
The show highlighted many of the ways in which IT can play a hugely positive role in helping to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change and also touched upon several of the well documented challenges the sector faces, such as its giant energy requirements and the need for IT firms to co-operate to develop more standardised approaches to technology.
As with almost any discussion of green IT, the consensus on the panel, which also included The Economists' Tom Standage and the show's presenter Simon Cox, was that IT has a central role to play in the low carbon economy.
Through its efforts to improve energy efficiency and cut energy bills, ability to enhance the efficiency of other sectors of the economy, links in terms of philosophy and personnel with clean tech firms, and new found commitment to open source and increasingly collaborative technology development models there is little doubt that the IT industry remains a hugely positive force in the drive towards a low carbon economy.
However, one aspect of the show also served to highlight a huge challenge for the sector and one it has not yet developed a satisfactory response to.
Fresh from reporting on the UK's first Maker Faire in Newcastle, Cox asked whether we could expect repairing devices and tinkering with components to become increasingly more important as we move towards a greener approach to technology.
In theory, of course, this should indeed be the case. Resource shortages coupled with the fact that much of the carbon that results from IT equipment is embedded in its manufacture means that businesses and individuals should ideally look to use IT equipment for as much of its working life as possible, and that means repairing it and upgrading it when necessary.
The problem, leaving aside the fact that people with the requisite technical skills are thin on the ground, is that such an approach runs completely counter to the modern IT industry's business model of frequent and regular replacement cycles.
All the green IT improvements the industry has delivered to date, such as improved energy efficiency and reductions in the levels of hazardous chemicals, make perfect business sense. But the hard-nosed commercial case for building machines that last longer, are easier to repair, and can be upgraded without buying a whole new system is far harder to make.
It might not be green and it might be frustrating for anyone who likes to tinker, but the built-in obsolescence inherent in a mobile phone or laptop that you can't even remove the back from is always going to garner the support of the finance department.
Businesses can make a case for taking a more enlightened approach to repairs and upgrades, but only if they are willing to work closely with customers and make the case that it is more cost and resource efficient to pay a bit more up front for equipment that will last longer than opt for cheaper, more disposable alternatives.
It is the rejection or continued support of obsolescent design principles and bi-annual refresh cycles that will provide the ultimate test of the IT industry's high profile commitment to greener business models.
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