Gravity sucks

Posted on December 4, 2008


Gravity cc by solidstate

Q: What have gravity and sustainability got in common?  

A: Try as hard as you like, they’ll both pull you down to earth in the end. 

Linda Tucci makes what she calls “obnoxious caveats” in her post “Brownie points for green IT will go away … and then?“.    I think this is inspired, no greenwash or business case jargon here.   As someone said at NZEfS last week

“forget the marketing, sustainability is like gravity – you just have to live with it”.  

So, I agree with Linda, and while I’d rather be doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing, here are her not so obnoxious caveats:

1. Heavy metal footprint.

If money is an object in 2009, as most agree it will be, the least expensive ways of disposing of this waste will likely be associated with unscrupulous agents. The effect will be that poor regions of the world will be contaminated. 

To put it another way, as your companies brag about reducing their carbon footprint with energy-efficient data centers and telepresence, it is at least worth keeping in mind that your heavy-metal footprint could have as bad or even worse consequences

2.   Regulation

Going green is very soon going to require buying electronic parts that don’t have the heavy metals. RoHs   stands for the “Directive on the Restriction of the use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment…and that will come with a cost (my emphasis)

This stands out in contrast to yesterday’s post where Doug Washburn argued that Green IT was only justfiable if it increases profits.

3.   Reality

Pretty soon the extra credit for going green is going to go away. When green IT becomes the norm rather than the exception, there will be no more brownie points, just like there are no brownie points for complying with Sarbanes-Oxley. 

If you don’t comply, you go to jail. When that happens, going green will no longer be a bonus point but a cost. And sooner or later, doing the right thing, I hate to tell you, is going to be headache. 

(OK fellow Kiwis, I looked up Sarbanes-Oxley, it’s public accounting standards).  

This is similar to the fad argument  (get sustainability in place before the term fades).  It emphasises that Green is something we have to come to terms with.  My hope is that sustainability goes the way of Quality Control – something that is now firmly embedded as part of normal business practice.