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Could Technology Save the World?

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Today is Blog Action Day, and also the first time that Inari Media has participated in a such an event. I have gone through multiple calendars and jotted down all sorts of events (it’s also Teachers’ Day in Brazil today), but I don’t tend to do many themed posts. Hopefully, by the end of the day there will be thousands of blog posts in multiple languages scattered across the web. At least, I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The theme for this year is climate change, something far more serious than me having to dig out my fingerless mittens for typing now that the mornings are chillier. People around the world are already suffering the effects, and in December world leaders will meet in Copenhagen to argue themselves into inaction discuss collective action to lower global carbon emissions. While they are probably going to be focused on how emissions from industry can be reduced, I’m more interested in how businesses can play a part.

At an individual level, we are told that one of the worst things you can do is to fly frequently, whether you offset or not. Not very long ago, if you were dealing with a business in another country and you needed to have a meeting, you would take a flight. Today, however, thanks to the internet, thanks to Skype, thanks to instant messaging, thanks to cloud storage, thanks to platforms like the currently beta-testing Google Wave, it’s possible to communicate, even collaborate with people around the world without having to think about how many trees you will need to plant to assuage your guilt. As the world grows ever more connected and the number of people with access to broadband increases, there isn’t as much need to travel for business as there previously has been. And given the bloodbath that is the airline industry’s balance sheets, especially here in the UK, it does look as though business travellers are opting to travel less, and to conference call more. So could new technology be the answer to stopping frequent flying?

I’m not going to pretend that everything would be OK if only people never travelled for business; people will still need to fly for a variety of reasons, and the airline industry is only one polluter amongst many. Bill Hicks was right: the human race, at least in terms of how it has treated the planet, is indeed “a virus with shoes.” Undoing the damage that has been done is a daunting challenge, and one that might never be met. But in my more optimistic moments, I do like to think that technology, along with carbon credits, electric vehicles and all the other measures being considered, is something that we can put to good use now and in the future to reduce the carbon footprint of doing business.

[Image by Aitor Améztegui]

Sidenote: the Blog Action Day team have a Twitter account and you can follow them at @blogactionday. Or you can see all sorts of posts related to Blog Action Day using the hashtag #BAD09.

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