Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

07 July 2012

The Mobile Phone Industry is the Biggest (Carbon Dioxide) Polluter on the Planet Today

The Internet consumes 8% of the electricity in Switzerland, the equivalent of the power generated by one nuclear reactor in the country.  According to this article from Bloomberg Business Week, “Planet Polluter” by Rachael Kind, 11 October 2010, “the information and communication technology industry in the United States is on track to quadruple its consumption of electricity between 2009 and 2020...  This means that its carbon emissions will grow as well, from 75.95 megatons of CO2 to an estimated 195.02 megatons released in 2020."  The technology includes laptops, cell phones, Wi-Fi.  Wireless devices require transmitters to work.  Barrie Trower (expert on microwaves) says, “The more the industry puts out Wi-Fi, not only are they contributing to warming the atmosphere but they are increasing the carbon footprint.  The mobile industry is the greatest polluter on the planet today.”

Planet Polluter

The machines that handle the world's computing tasks are also some of the planet's biggest polluters. Data centers, PCs, mobile phones and gaming consoles use electricity that frequently comes from coal-burning power plants or other sources of energy that give off high carbon emissions.

The information and communication technology (ICT) industry in the U.S. is on track to quadruple its consumption of electricity between 2009 and 2020, according to a study released today from the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) in Singapore and Rice University in Houston, Texas. Unless electronics can be altered to become significantly more energy-efficient, the related carbon emissions from these products are set to grow as well, says the report. In the U.S. carbon emissions related to tech products will grow from 72.95 megatons of carbon dioxide released in 2009 to 195.06 megatons released in 2020.

About 6 percent of the world's electricity consumption goes to power cell phones, computers, data centers and other information and communication technology, according to a March 2010 report from market research firm SBI Energy. That electricity accounts for about 2 percent of the world's global carbon emissions.

"The issue of power will be prevalent everywhere," says Dave Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM.

IBM is among companies already trying to reduce energy consumption. Supercomputers, for example, are some of the biggest energy consumers in tech and research facilities can spend millions per year in energy bills to run these machines. When the Green500 List was released in July, IBM had 17 of the top 20 most energy-efficient supercomputers. IBM supercomputers averaged 201 million calculations per second per watt while other supercomputers averaged 102 million calculations per second per watt, according to Green500.org.

Ambitious as the efforts of IBM and other companies may be, they may not be enough to keep the IT industry from making an outsized contribution to carbon emissions. If the U.S. continues on this same path, global carbon emissions related to PCs and laptops, which accounted for 48.5 percent of all global ICT emissions in 2009 will nearly quadruple by 2020. Data center emissions will more than triple by 2020, according to today's report.

Do you have any ideas for making tech products more sustainable? I'd love to hear them.


  1. Mobile enterprise became increasing popular in the workforce as employees are turning to mobile social collaboration tools for working together and sharing resources and information..Use of mobile phones are increasing day by day.Very informative blog post.It focused on recent news that how mobile phones are the biggest polluter of planet and efforts taken by IBM to reduce this pollution..I admire for this great writing

  2. Replies
    1. Many thanks for your comprehensive post of the downside of IT - which translates well in English. What is the attitude of the authorities and health officials in Sweden towards exposure to EMF? Our association, ARA - www.alerte.ch, is about to launch a campaign to try to raise awareness of the medical milieu regarding this issue, approaching nursing schools and associations because doctors, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland, seem to be deaf, dumb, and blind...

    2. "What is the attitude of the authorities and health officials in Sweden towards exposure to EMF?"

      It is L M Ericsson who decides what should be allowed in Sweden = authorities go on it - unfortunately.


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