On the positive side, tech is helping cut down on the use of some resources. Reading newspapers and documents on screens means chopping down fewer trees for paper. Using email cuts down on the environmental cost not just of paper and envelopes but all the fuel it takes to get a letter from place to place. The ability to telecommute or participate in an online conference reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
We have a lot more electronic devices, but the good news is that they are getting increasingly efficient. Still, globally, our demand for electricity is growing at the rate of 2.4 percent a year. That doesn’t sound like much, but it compounds over time, which means a doubling of consumption between 2000 and 2030.