Monday, December 12, 2011

Internet/Economy: A Green Revolution?

Are you worried about climbing prices at the gas pump, traffic jams and the greenhouse effect? There could be a surprising answer to all these issues: The Internet. At least the growing use of the World Wide Web could slow down these developments. This suggests a recent study by Gartner ( The research firm asked the question: Given a choice between internet access or keys to a car, which would you choose? 46% of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the U.S. surveyed answered they would choose the Internet and give up their cars.

 “Mobile devices, gadgets and the Internet are becoming must-have lifestyle products that convey status,” said Thilo Koslowski, lead automotive analyst for Gartner, according to the  "New York Times"  ( “In that sense these devices offer a degree of freedom and social reach that previously only the automobile offered.”

Those who get a driving license now drive less, too, writes the New York Times. The papers quotes the Transportation Department which says 21-to-30-year-olds now drive 8 percent fewer miles than they did in 1995.

These numbers aren`t really surprising. If you ride a bus, a train or even some subway lines (as in New York City) you can text, call your friends or surf the Internet using Smartphones , Kindles or iPads. Doing this while driving a car would be hazardous and illegal.

And: The Internet has at least another effect which could slow down the use of cars. More and more people are shopping online and are driving therefore less frequent to the shopping mails, avoiding traffic jams and searching time for parking slots.

If there is really a change in the collective behavior and a trend, as the Gartner study suggests, then the rising use of the Internet could slow down the use of cars and therefore the burning of fossil energies, at least a bit.

Of course, the Internet also needs energy. The big server farms from Google, Facebook & Co. burn a lot of electricity, and iPhones and other devices are sucking energy too. But the energy used for texting and other Internet apps is less than for driving and the technological progress reduces the amount of energy used for collecting and transporting data.

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