Environmental Impact Study
The genesis of technology has greatly impacted human lives for the better. We‘ve benefited from streamlined communication, medical advances and increased productivity. Although the advances have allowed humans to progress tremendously, we can see the repercussions of our evolvement reflected in our environment. Luckily, there are many technological systems that have proven to be an environmentally friendly resource. Fiber optics is one of them.
The use of fiber optical cables over other kinds of cables offers many benefits to the environment. It is a long-lasting solution that requires less energy and reduces the release of Greenhouse gasses. It is also far more eco-conscious than its direct competitor, copper. The technology is used across a wide range of industries including defense, industrial, entertainment, medical and more. Taking a sustainable approach has the capacity to make a great impact on how our planet fares.
Copper communication systems have a few advantages over fiber. Copper has been used in electrical wiring since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. Due to its early application, historically, copper has been the primarily utilized resource. In some cases, initial costs of copper are also less expensive than fiber. However, mining copper can have detrimental effects on the planet. The harvesting of the materials has the ability to contaminate bodies of water, vegetation as well as wildlife in the nearby areas. In many cases, the contamination can render the geographic location unable to sustain further life. Dissimilarly, fiber production has very little negative ecological impact. The optical fibers that make up fiber networks are predominantly made of glass, which is created out of Silicon dioxide (SiO2). Silicon is regarded as the second most common element on earth. It naturally occurs in sand, clay, rocks, and water. Harvesting does not cause harmful effects and production does not have a negative effect on the environment.
Fiber is the more sustainable option, particularly when subject to natural disasters and harsh environments. Its less susceptible to degrading as a result of heavy moisture, freezing and electric interference. Due to the exterior’s resilience, it is estimated that the cables can last 25 years or more. This advantage lessens the ongoing need for material upkeep, making it the more ecological option.
The technology behind fiber requires far less power consumption than the alternative. Fiber can use close to twelve times less energy than copper because its data is transmitted in the form of light. Due to the great amount of energy being consumed by copper communication systems, cooling is required to prevent overheating. The easiest way to cool is by employing air-conditioning which require high amounts of energy. Because they consume less power, fiber communication systems naturally stay cooler which reduces the need for energy.
The primary benefit of lower energy use is the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. CO2 is a prominent contributor to the Greenhouse Effect which is contributing to global warming. Utilizing technology that is energy efficient such as fiber optics means the number of Greenhouse gasses being released into the air is significantly less. The American Consumer estimated that widespread adoption of fiber internet could result in “incremental reduction of more than 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over ten years.” The environment also benefits from the fast and uninterrupted internet fiber optics provides which enhances the work-from-home experience. With less people communing to work, greenhouse gas emission is greatly reduced.
Technological advancements such as long-distance communication and the internet are exciting additions to society. Deploying this technology in a sustainable manner is important, so embracing environmentally friendly forms of technology will be beneficial in the long run.
“Broadband Services: Economic and Environmental Benefits.” The American Consumer Institute, 14 Feb. 2019, www.theamericanconsumer.org/2007/10/broadband-services-economic-and-environmental-benefits/.
“Fiber Optics: Road to an Eco-Friendly Network.” Nexus, 20 May 2019, nexus-net.info/fiber-optics-road-to-an-eco-friendly-network/.
Metals in Medicine and the Environment, faculty.virginia.edu/metals/cases/dudgeon3.html.
“On Earth Day, Give Fiber Its Due.” ENN, 22 Apr. 2015, www.enn.com/articles/48475-on-earth-day,-give-fiber-its-due