ICT to cause new ICE age by 2020: experts

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Technology specialists at the fourth annual 'Women in IT Conference' at Dubai Women's College (DWC) called the increased dependence on gadgets as the beginning of a new 'ICE Age'. This year's conference focusing on 'Green IT' was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Fariba Partawi, senior IT officer at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, told students at DWC, “We are drowning under the mountain of our own electronic waste. By the year 2020, 45 per cent of domestic electricity would be consumed by Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Consumer Electronics (CE). The two combined is being called the new Ice Age.” ICE products account for two per cent of carbon emissions. Green IT is the combating of environmental challenges by responsible management of IT resources and avoiding reckless use of IT resources. Partawi observed that ICT products were pervasive as they were present everywhere and in every home had multiple devices to compound the problem.

“Each year, 125 million computers are removed from circulation and in 2006, more than 500 million phones were retired,” she said, while citing examples of companies like Xerox, Wal-Mart and Nike that were working towards cutting down on greenhouse gases. She also noted that interestingly ICT was in the unique position of controlling 98 per cent carbon emissions. Prevalent patterns of production, consumption and waste disposal of equipment have made modern technologies a major strain on the environment. This harms not only the health of the eco system, but also the health of the population. Speaking via video conference, Kim Stevenson, VP of a Texas-based company, said that emissions could be cut through the use of more efficient components and by increasing the use of power management capabilities. Experts also suggested the use of more efficient computers with increased lifespan to help the cause.

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