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Emissions of carbon dioxide help to trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere that would normally be released into space. The result of this increased heat is called Global Warming if you are of the liberal persuasion and Dramatic Climate Change if you are conservative. The end result is the same; The Earth will continue to heat up where it should be cold, and cool off where it should be warm. This will be a mild inconvenience to most where it was warm, but the coldest areas such as the poles of the planet will see bigger change in the form of dumping massive amounts of ice into the ocean that will change the face of the planet. Computers are part of this larger problem.
Power plants, cars and factories lead the charge in changing the global environment, as do air conditioners, coal pits and all of the usual suspects. The computer as it is now is a part of the problem. A personal computer can use between 150 and 600 watts of power, which isn’t much compared to the damage of a coal pit but is a great deal more than a television or a CD player. A high end computer if left on constantly can add over $50 per month on an electric bill, and send hundreds of pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere over the course of a year.
The very same lead that must be removed from gasoline is present in a computer in large quantity. This is negligible in a single PC, or even in a city of PCs, but globally this is extremely toxic to the environment when they are disposed of. Although many parts are converted into reused Pcs and Refurbished Laptops most old Computers wind up in a landfill and must be destroyed. This is a lot of lead to deal with.
Although most US based PC manufactures are ignoring the problem, Europe has stepped up to the challenge of a Green PC. Lead-free computing is the goal in Europe, and many regulations are being put in place to help make this happen. Dell Inc. is pressuring its industry to create computer recycling programs that can help in this issue, and they have pledged to plant a tree for every computer they sell. Concern for the environment is not new to Dell Inc as in 2004 they agreed to recycle Computers from any manufacturer as long as the buyer purchased the new hardware from Dell.
PC World is in the process of launching a Green PC that will focus on decreasing the power usage of its personal computer. While this is a strong start towards helping the environment, most of the environmental damage done by a PC occurs before the end user even buys it. A 2004 UN University report found that the average PC burned through ten times its own weight in raw material during the manufacturing stage. This would mean that 75% of the environmental concern is manufacturing. As most manufacturing occurs outside the united states in the form of hardware such as motherboards, cards and cases then it becomes clear that a resolution in the united states would only be the beginning. It would become necessary for companies such as Dell and Gateway to refuse to do business with firms that manufactured PC hardware in a manner that was not environmentally friendly. Of course the problem there would be that Computers would increase in cost almost immediately and market wide.
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