Can you really save the planet by using the Internet more?

By Sarah Sorensen
October 6, 2009 | Comments: 4

The quick answer to that question is yes. But of course nothing is quick. Nothing is easy either, but it is possible. Just take a look at the role the Internet and all the other networks that connect the world's computing devices have on the way we are living our lives, conducting our politics, running our businesses and impacting our planet. It is changing everything.

The network offers us a sustainable platform for change, but to use it to its full advantage we must understand it; we must understand how it works, how it's integral to our daily lives and how its potential can be tapped more effectively to tackle our toughest environmental, social, economic and political problems.

Here are four things you can do now to support the sustainable network.

Evaluate and recognize the impact of networks on your life today.

The Internet has more than likely changed your relationships and many ways that you go about your daily life. It's important to recognize, in real terms, both the possibilities and holes created by the network in your personal, civic and business activities. Take stock of the new prospects it's created, new challenges you face, and the level of your reliance on it every day.

Sarah Sorensen is the author of The Sustainable Network: The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet.

The Sustainable Network demonstrates how we can tackle challenges, ranging from energy conservation to economic and social innovation, using the global network -- of which the public Internet is just one piece. This book demystifies the power of the network, and issues a strong call to action.

You may also be interested in Nancy Conner's Living Green: The Missing Manual.

Taking care of the earth is more important than ever. Living Green: The Missing Manual is an all-in-one resource packed with practical advice on ways you can help the environment by making relatively easy, earth-friendly changes in your home routine, work habits, and the way you shop and get around town. This book teaches you how a few small changes can have a big impact.

The goal is to identify how you want to maximize potential and minimize risk.

Invest in the future to take advantage of the opportunities created by the network.

Learn as much as you can about what the network really is. You should be able to define it (broadband, 3G, smart grid, etc.) and link that to your future opportunities. Learn how to use new network tools to establish connections to information and people, to give you access to the resources you need to make informed decisions. In business, evaluate your infrastructure in terms of scaling and new requirement adaptability.

Investment, time and financial, is critical to participating in the digital world.

Protect your personal information, intellectual property and digital assets.

It is critical to be aware of the risks you are taking when sharing information and resources online. There are precautions and security measures you can take to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of your online activities.

Risks in the digital world need to be understood before they can be combated, and it's important to understand the tradeoffs, strengths and weaknesses of the digital world as an alternative to the physical one.

Test new ideas.

Look for additional ways you could leverage the network to achieve your plans, improve economies of scale or reduce your impacts. Examine your mindset, regulatory landscape, business culture, process and policy environment and ask whether they support change. The more willing a government, business or person is to take a look at the way they normally operate and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation, the better the chance they will be able to effectively leverage the network and new technologies to solve problems and accelerate success.

It's critical to identify and then clear the hurdles and embrace necessary changes to keep up in this fast-paced world.

Thinking and answering these broad questions in our own, individualized terms will enable us to find our place in this global network. And then together we can develop more sustainable environmental, economic, social and political models, connected and supported by the network. It's important to understand the network and its role in our lives, so we can nurture our relationship with it - our individualized and collective futures depend on it.

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What does this posting have to do with the environment? It might as well have been written by a spam bot.

One thing I like about this blog posting is that it clearly communicates a key aspect of sustainability - one needs to be proactive, responsible and aware in order to get engaged. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing these ideas!

I'm kinda disappointed in this post myself, while the book may have some good information I was expecting a little more about it in the post.

Like, internet, don't have to drive to work, use less gas, thats good for the planet.

oh well

You should read her other blogs for more specifics on how the network is a sustainable platform for change..especially the one on energy.

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