Consumer study shows broadband can save the planet

  A recent publication by the American Consumer Institute shows that Broadband Internet can reduce carbon emissions worldwide by up to 1 billion tons over the next 10 years.

But widespread adoption of the technology is key.

 The paper discusses the economic and environmental benefits of broadband Internet delivery against the backdrop of global warming and radical climate change. Current carbon dioxide emissions in the United states is currently at nearly 8 billion tons, and growing fast.  

Broadband is seriously good news 

The study finds that widespread adoption of broadband applications alone can reduce these carbon emissions by 1 billion tons over 10 years! To give you an idea of how freakin’ huge this is:

1 billion tons of carbon dioxide equates to roughly 11% of the United States’ annual oil imports, making broadband a lot of carbon bang for your broadband buck.

Everyone prefers it fast

E-mails, newsletters and mobile content have steadily been gaining ground against traditional newspapers and paper-based media, both in terms of convenience and production costs, making it a win-win for consumers AND producers.

It also has the benefit of reducing the demand for paper, saving trees conserving energy and polluting less water during the production process!  

e-Commerce rocks!

Broadband has had a pronounced and very positive effect on the way people shop – both in terms of the need to commute, and that less floor space is required to trade. E-commerce operators such as and, for example, don’t have to offset as big a carbon footprint as the traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer does.

Similarly, telecommunications, video conferencing, web-ex type screen-sharing and other broadband applications are reducing the need for business travel, effectively making the modern workplace particularly “carbon sui”. 

Some quick stats from ACI report…

 In the next 10 years:

  • B-2-B and B-2-C e-commerce is predicted to reduce carbon emissions by more than 200 tons in the US

  • Telecommuting could cut driving – and hence emissions – by nearly 250 million tons

  • Teleconferencing could reduce greenhouse emissions by nearly 200 million tons, if 10% of airline travel could be replaced by using this technology

And here’s the feel-good for all you online content publishers:

Over the next 10 years, shifting newspaper subscriptions from paper to online alone will curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by more than million tons!

Long live the web! 

The key, however, is “widespread broadband adoption”. As commercial demand for broadband rises, the technology could be leveraged even more effectively.  

What SA Climate Crisis wants YOU to do

The climate crisis is everybody’s baby. To hit the 1 billion ton reduction in carbon emissions mark, widespread buy-in will be needed. You’re in the right line of business to make a difference! Here’s how:  

If your company is not already an avid broadband consumer, I want you to walk up to management and inform them that a serious broadband line – perhaps even two – is critical for the sustainability of the planet and, by implication, for their business. Tell them that a 1-to-1 contention ratio is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Get up and go demand broadband from The Man; it is your carbon duty!



Climate change and the future: How bleak is REALLY bleak?

In most civilised countries, it is quite a hard thing to explain to people how bad things are going to get if they don’t start changing their ways. In South Africa, it is even harder, because we’re already largely living a worst-case scenario on a daily basis.

Who needs environmental headaches when you have crime, corruption and Aids? 

When I quote Friends of the Earth and say that, at the rate we’re emitting carbon dioxide now, the number of climate refugees will climb from 1 million people in 1990 to 70 million in 2080, you tell me that it’s a subsidiary issue when you consider that the average person that’s alive today in SA will not live much past their 40th birthday, thanks to Aids and Extreme Drug Resistant TB.

You tell me that the climate crisis can kiss it because the biggest cause of death among men aged 30 and younger today is caused by trauma – gun, knife and car accident related – not pathetic little 5% rises in global temperatures every century or so.

Yet influential thinkers and scientists such as Al Gore and his climate change expert panel agree that with global warming comes more floods – and more long-term droughts.

My dad’s problems are bigger than yours
Now when you consider that 70% of all Africans are farmers, and that 40% of their exports are agriculture-related, that leaves but millions of very poor people very vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes.

Add to that the fact that 60 – 80% of African cash is spent on food, and you have a very bleak future risk picture at hand.

To you, it’s just 0.2 to .5% warmer per decade. To the average third world state’s citizen, it is the difference between harvesting crops and reaping the whirlwind.

Now whether you choose to do something about global warming for the sake of the civil-war-crippled poor living in coastal areas of countries like Mozambique, or whether you want to leave your children’s children a planet that can sustain them;

Whether you do it for ethical reasons or simply to feel better about your smoking habit, it is time to start doing something proactive.

For those of you that can recall the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), our man Bush gave the entire proceedings the stubby dry finger and kept pumping carbon dioxide like there’s no tomorrow. (Please see below.Fuck you, Third World!)

 And the way America’s going, that’s fast becoming a possibility.

When will the world stand up and demand the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol’s stipulations?

When will the very notion of “carbon credits” be abolished?

And before all this happens, will you be protesting in the streets? Will you be teaching your children climate struggle songs and how to burn furniture?

Carbon accountability is as much up to the individual as it is to corporates and ruling parties in developed countries, and voting is powerful. As a medium for civil expression, it has the power to overthrow corrupt regimes.

It has the power to change everything.

Now the question is: If there was a political party that skipped the politicking and ID-style voter base pimping, a party that had the balls to take on industry and challenge government to drive carbon accountability at ALL levels, would they get your vote when next the elections rolled round?

Or would you keep on wasting your vote towards furthering individual politicians’ careers?

Yes, it IS political!
There’s no black and white when it comes to climate change, but it sure as hell is a key politicial issue that will directly affect the poorest of the poor worse than anybody else.

Aids will kill millions in the present, yet planetary failure will wipe out the possibility of a future.

Are you ready to take ownership of global warming as the single most critical challenge facing us as a generation? Or are you going to keep on supporting the Boks and drink SAB?

NOW who’s your daddy?

And now that I’ve totally killed your mojo for the day, you can get it back by sharing this piece of doom and gloom with the guy in your office that drives the biggest urban 4×4 to work on his ace every morning.

Individual accountability, remember? Yes aye!

And remember to CC in the entire holdings company – let’s expose the carbon criminals in our midst!

Fuck you, (Third) World!

Outsourcing: what about environmental accountability?

In business, and especially when it comes to the outsourcing of production, the following truism is used as a benchmark for commercial success: Delivery must happen – right on time, right on price, and right in terms of quality.

Yet nowhere is there a clause stating that all production processes must be strictly carbon neutral, and precious few South African outsourcers are concerned with anything beyond turning a profit and keeping staffing headaches to a minimum.

Not yet, in any event.

A carbon footprint? What a vague and wishy-washy Greenpeace concept.

What about minimum wage thresholds for outsource labourers?

What about bilateral empowerment deals and non-sweatshop, non-firetrap working conditions for “outsource employees” in foreign jurisdictions?


Now that you’ve established that your company’s outsourcing does not constitute a human rights violation, are you sure that its tight-fisted negotiation of outsourcing contract fees isn’t forcing suppliers to resort to non-environmentally friendly tactics in order to eek out a living?

Does your company’s level of payment enable suppliers to afford replacing their banged-up 1970s vehicle fleet with more modern, fuel-economical and environmentally friendly delivery vehicles?

Or do you leave your suppliers no option but to keep driving them into the ground?

Cost-effectiveness can be an acutely short-sighted consideration.

Take action

Start investigating how you can empower your production line and outsourced suppliers to deliver – on time, within budget and carbon neutral in terms of environmental sustainability. Then take your finding and get key role players to champion the cause.

The WWF carbon footprint calculator isn’t a bad place to start. Also visit for inspiration how your company could get involved with Food and Trees for Africa, South Africa’s sole national non-government, non-profit, greening organisation. 

The problem with blogging for environmental change

This weekend’s Sunday Times – News & Opinion carried a syndicated article in which anti-globalisation doyenne Naomi Klein  dealt my excitement – if not determination – to blog for environmental change a bit of a blow. 

Klein, the critically acclaimed Canadian activist and author of No Logo, makes the following point about blogging as a medium:

As a blogger, you get to stand and shout on your soap box, get the issue off your chest (often to no one in particular) and then get on with your day without changing a thing about the very problem that upset you.

And I fear she may have a valid point.

Having read the anti-globalisation bible and fleetingly met her in a Mike’s Kitchen whilst covering the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, I for one can vouch that she has her heart and head in the right place.

Yet in one fell swoop she hammers both Bono of U2 and, by implication, André of SA Climate Crisis’ attempts to spread eco-friendly thinking and ideas as futile.


If anything, she reckons, it does the cause as a whole a disservice by bringing about “change-inertia” and trivialising or “Bono-ising” the topic.


In a previous entry I wrote about change and ways of mobilising people through the dissemination eco-conscious thinking.

And if Klein is right, we’re not nearly done thinking about it either.


Should we organise a “gorilla mobbing” in Canal Walk, or go spray-paint the Minstry of Minerals and Energy’s offices? Should we drive around and deflate the tyres of every stationary Hummer we can find and skull-paint their windshields?


Because I will do it. Don’t tempt me.


What can you DO?


Action Point 1

On a more serious note though, please do let me know how we can take blogging and other forms of social media from mere consciousness into engaged action; this is important, so feel free to comment away.


Today being Blog Action Day, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate day to broach this topic.


Action Point 2
Go buy and read No Logo, and get hold of The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein’s new book on how Western Politicians persistently screw their voter bases – AND the environment – during times of disaster and crisis.

If nothing else, you can rest assured that the money won’t be funding a US presidential campaign in the near future.


This is what to look out for:



Action Point 3
Subscribe to this blog via the RSS feed and encourage your thinking associates to do the same.

Do it, do it now!


 Action Point 4

If you’re blogging today, make sure it’s about something urgent and environmental. Let’s make this one count in the blogosphere!

Changing the way we view change

 Change is not a static concept. It’s a politicised word, an emotionally loaded and politically engaged concept.

Conservative organisations and people who fear the future resist change. HR managers get trained to manage it, which in turn becomes the branded but somewhat ominous “change management”, a calculated process of minimising the damage impact of change on staff morale and other organisational outcomes during periods of re-organisation or marketplace uncertainty.

Similarly, people become very comfortable with The Known, the psychological space better known as a comfort zone. Even if the present isn’t great, it certainly looks less bad than the unknown and the discomfort associated with getting there.

Glancing at my dictionary (yes, that’s what writers do for angles), the bulk of the usage examples listed for change pertains to verbs, or actions. It talks about “changing things”, or “becoming different”.

Now here’s the trick: the significance of change lies in it actually happening, in the concept spilling over from a world of ideas into the real world. It is a conceptual medium, a matrix pregnant with possibility.

Let’s sound high-brow and call it something akin to metaphysical water.

If lots of water runs in the same direction or within the same parameters, with new water molecules constantly replacing the space taken up by old ones, we get a stream.

Because of this particle-to-space renewal, things stay fresh, and the stream becomes the backbone supporting an entire ecosystem. So if change actually happens – even if it is challenging to start with – flowers and trees can grow where once we only had comfortable moss on uncomfortable rocks to sit on (see above point about comfort zones).

And where streams of change converge, we get rivers; rivers that can significantly alter the landscape of resistance it confronts.

Armed with a well-directed force of engaged ideas, we can radically transform the way we, as a species, exist on this planet.

Reversing global warming starts with changing the way we think about our own environmental impact. But it doesn’t stop there.

The very essence of change lies in actions that transform perceptions and behaviours, in a perpetual “refreshing” of awareness, and in perpetually renewing our personal accountability. The key to igniting these changes is you.

Now go spread the word – Avanti!

PS: Think this post is dope? Vote for it under – Hot Posts – and get the issue in front of the eye-balls that matter!


Defining “atrocity” in environmental terms

Let’s play a little game with words today.

My Oxford English dictionary defines an atrocity as “an extremely cruel or wicked act”. Given this definition, let us assume that “cruel” serves to describe the nature of the act in question, whilst “wicked” refers more to the intrinsic nature of the agent committing the act, i.e.:

  • “Cruel” – describes nature of act itself
  • Wicked – describes nature of agent committing act

Given the traditional and commonly understood characteristics locked up inside the word “wicked”, the word can also be said to connote an intent that is malicious, or evil.

So far so good.

Given this awareness of intent, being wicked therefore per definition also means being conscious of your own wickedness, and of what you’re doing to others.

Now imagine that in a beautiful place such as the Bazaruto Archipelago (just off the coast of Mozambique), for example, a company – let’s call them Sasol – is scouring the shallow island waters in search of hydro-carbon deposits by means of high-decibel explosions of compressed air.

These seismic soundings are fired off every 9 – 12 seconds, on a 24/7 basis, for three months at a time, and seem to traumatise resident dolphins and dugongs – an endangered and enigmatic mammal species – to the point that they beach and die. In droves.

Although nothing is proven yet, the signs point to the seismic testing being responsible. As any self-respecting and politically correct neo-imperialist would do, however, Sasol places the tests on hold, and – wait for it – funds a study of dugons and their habitat.

At this point, Sasol knows that they may be stress-torturing the dugongs and dolphins of Bazaruto in an aural-tactile fashion. That is to say, they ARE AWARE of the fact that they may have been committing ACTS OF CRUELTY.

Bye-bye Dugong

Should Sasol choose to continue their operations – and they seem dead keen to – the environmental impact should logically be far worse than that of the testing only. There would remain a strong possibility that their operational expansion in Bazaruto would then rightfully be described as an atrocity, and that Sasol, by implication, would be a wicked company – regardless of any assessment study’s findings.

(Or that would be the case if you buy into this blog’s earlier unpacking of the concept.)

Given the fact that there are only  about 200 Bazaruto dugongs left –the only viable population in the region – would it be too much to ask for Sasol to show some respect?

If not,we would all be compelled to get out there and tell our friends and fellow energy consumers exactly why we think that Sasol’s “reaching new frontiers” motto is atrocious.