Laptop Computers Use Less Operational Energy Over Life Than The Energy Required to Build Them

I saw Michael Cooney’s report, Layer 8: Computer factories eat way more energy than running the devices they build, linked on SlashDot.org this morning. Cooney details a study from the Journal of Cleaner Production that establishes, at least with modes of production in 2002 of laptop computers by Dell, that the energy required to build a laptop is far greater than the total energy consumed by a laptop during its lifetime. Furthermore, recycling laptop components do not considerably recoup the energy of production. This means that making computers more efficient does save some energy use, but the best way to reduce energy use (and reduce carbon emissions) is to improve the production process and extend the lifespan of laptops. The latter is probably more likely than the former, because it is an energy intensive process to build computer components (at least with current technologies). I am looking at my MacBook in a different light now.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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