More than half of the digital data generated by companies is collected, processed and stored for single use. It is often never reused. There can be numerous nearly identical images stored in Google Photos or outdated spreadsheets from a company that will never be used again, or useless sensor data from the Internet of Things – this is known as dark data. The energy that this “dark data” requires keeps an individual grounded in reality. Data that is stored but never used again takes up space on servers, which are often huge banks of computers housed in warehouses. These computers and storage consume a lot of electricity. Therefore, pollution is increasing due to this obscure unused data. While most climate protection activists focus on reducing emissions from the automotive, aerospace and energy industries, digital computing is already on par with these industries and growing. It is expected that digitization would account for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2023. The production of digital data is increasing rapidly; the world is expected to generate 100 trillion gigabytes of data this year. Could almost double to 200 trillion gigabytes by 2025, according to environmental studies. As a result, it is surprising that reducing the digital carbon footprint of organisations has received little attention. To reduce this footprint, the idea of “digital decarbonization” is introduced. This does not mean using phones, computers, sensors and other digital technologies to reduce a company’s carbon footprint. Rather, it refers to reducing the carbon footprint by deleting own digital data which is no longer required. To illustrate the magnitude of the dark data situation, data centers they have a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry. A typical data-driven company like insurance, retail, or banking with 100 employees could generate 3,000 gigabytes of dark data per day. If they kept that data for a year, it would have a carbon footprint similar to six flights from Mumbai to Chicago. Any files stored in Apple iCloud or Google Photos contribute to digital carbon footprint. One can reduce dark data production and contribute to the digital decarbonization movement by removing unwanted stored data.
VijayKumar H K