Introduction to information technology and relationship with environment issues

introduction to information technology and relationship with environment issues

1 Introduction makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment . The following sections will focus on the impacts of information technology and . ties. Interaction between superiors and subordinates will become more tense. Here are a few of the ways that technology can harm the environment: and technology addiction can lead to other health problems like obesity and carpal tunnel to the trash can or recycle bin, but this only partially erases the information!. Volume 18, Issue 1, January–March , Pages The introduction of information technology (IT) has become a necessity to compete in most to changes in the environment and thus to improve their competitive position with respect to.

introduction to information technology and relationship with environment issues

Citing economic trends in the information industry, Allenby shows that substitution of information for materials and energy has reduced the costs and use of these resources. He speculates that the demands for sustainability will increase the substitution of information for other inputs and postulates that sustainability itself may well be unattainable without such substitutions.

Information substitution, although an important contributor, will not, by itself, generate the ideal environment. In the area of transportation, for example, there has been a merging of information and communications technologies in automobiles and traffic systems, including the development of so-called smart highways and vehicles to control traffic flow.

The same has happened in air travel. Yet in neither case has the fundamental problem of reducing traffic been addressed. There are solutions, such as increasing ridership on public transportation. This may occur if significant improvements are made in transportation systems and if personal vehicle use is discouraged.

Another alternative is to encourage people to work from home, telecommuting instead of traveling to work. Although such telework policies are beginning to appear in the workplace, gains from such practices can be offset easily by increases in other types of travel. For any of these approaches to be effective, the focus must be on addressing the problems of the total transportation system with a view toward minimizing the need for travel.

Hence, in many ways, information and communications technologies will continue to contribute positively to the environment in terms of reductions in materials and energy use. However, the final outcomes of such measures are likely to remain uncertain.

introduction to information technology and relationship with environment issues

Other areas in which application of the technology can contribute to environmental improvement include knowledge management— capturing information and knowledge so that past mistakes are not repeated as discussed by Richards and Kabjian, this volume —and knowledge creation. Legal barriers that are predicated on the traditional physical formats of knowledge, such as books, need to be addressed, according to Cohen and Martin this Page 6 Share Cite Suggested Citation: At issue is data ownership.

Is it the creator of the data or the individual who compiled them who has rightful ownership? Current intellectual property laws were not designed to protect and encourage the dissemination of compilations of factual information. They were designed to protect property. Creative expression and data do not fit well in either of these categories. Data are neither creative expressions like books, paintings, or sculptures, nor unique inventions.

Database creators want protection the very moment that their data are gathered. In addition, databases are extremely dynamic and undergo constant change.

As Cohen and Martin this volume point out, current patent and copyright laws are not suited to protect data or the compilation of data in a database. In the case of copyright, not only is current law ill-suited to the task, but it expressly bars protection of ideas, principles, and facts.

In the case of patent laws, it can take years to process a patent application, and a clear definition of the unique invention is required. Other laws, such as those related to trade secrecy and the tort of misappropriation, are equally ill-suited to protect the compilation of data. To address the common flaws intrinsic to the current intellectual property laws, Cohen and Martin suggest a two-phase approach that incorporates both property and liability.

This initial blocking period would be followed by an automatic license. Absent some other agreement, the database creator would be obligated, at a minimum, to share the data with all secondcomers at rates established by a regulatory body composed of industry representatives and government officials.

Under this approach, data creators would recover investments made during the compilation process, but the data would remain publicly accessible under fair and reasonable terms. Many experts in management believe that the manufacturing, service, and information sectors will be based on knowledge in the future, and business organizations will evolve into knowledge creators in many ways.

How Technology can Harm the Environment

Page 7 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Organizations have to abandon obsolete knowledge and learn to create new products and processes by improving ongoing activities and continually innovating in an organized way. Successful organizations of the future will have institutionalized the concept of growth based on knowledge creation and learning.

Three papers in this volume describe how private firms can develop information systems to better manage and create knowledge for environmental purposes. Richards and Kabjian point out that there are several opportunities to improve and apply environmental knowledge sharing, many of which cross traditional organizational boundaries.

Carberry shows how a vast array of information technologies such as e-mail, relational databases, CD-ROM, expert systems, Internet-based Web pages, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing is helping companies communicate environmental policies, exchange information about cleaner production technology, and report compliance data.

In each instance, these new technologies provide for the rapid distribution or dissemination of environmental experiences, information, and knowledge that enhance technology transfer and enable companies to more effectively address compliance control and remediation. Hepinstall, on the other hand, discusses the challenges that firms face in implementing knowledge-sharing systems that share relevant environmental information internally within a company.

Graedel this volume and Ishii this volume explore another facet of the green technology challenge, namely, creating environmental knowledge that is of use to product designers. Graedel walks us through the design process, showing at what stages—from initial concept to final design—environmental knowledge can be useful.

For example, when a product is in its conceptualization stage, he suggests addressing very basic environmentally related questions such as whether forbidden or highly regulated substances or materials will be required to manufacture the product and what the potential environmental impacts of the product throughout its life cycle, including recycling, might be. Some of the information needed to answer these questions may be located easily, but in other instances, the knowledge required may have to be created.

Ishii illustrates one technique— the reverse fish-bone diagram—that designers can use to gain knowledge about parts and components of existing production. The purpose of undertaking such an exercise is to create knowledge that can be used in future designs to improve the recyclability of the product or family of products. Page 8 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Modern production operations, however, are nodes in an increasingly complex network of suppliers and distributors, which in turn require equally sophisticated knowledge systems if they are to be properly informed.

Kleindorfer and Snir this volume explore environmental stewardship activities in this highly complex supply chain by focusing on how environmental information is gathered and used.

They suggest that information technologies may help firms improve the environmental aspects of their products at three important levels: Whereas these models often can be used to optimize production, the technique of accessing such software and developing unique models is new. Similar applications may be developed that will help small manufacturers improve their environmental performance.

The complexity tends to be a huge obstacle that impedes the progress towards individuals involved working together effectively. Yet there is a critical need for collaborative work in the larger arena beyond the firm, and several collaborative arrangements have emerged.

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One is sector specific. In the for-profit world it takes the form of consortia of firms from a specific industrial sector working together on a particular problem. In the nonprofit sector, it takes the form of government agencies often forming task forces to work together on common issues.

Another collaborative arrangement involves partnerships consisting of for-profit firms, private nonprofit interest groups, and the government that work on developing consensus on and solutions to issues of common interest. While the motivations that drive the two types of collaborations may differ, the challenges in both revolve around developing a common understanding of approaches to the problem at hand and establishing a standard terminology that all can work with.

Killgoar this volume makes the point that, from a private-sector perspective, the motivation for collaboration is to gain data, information, and knowledge. Using the automotive sector as an example, he describes the nontechnical, softer Page 9 Share Cite Suggested Citation: These issues, if successfully dealt with, can have enormous payback in development of new technologies.

The challenge is to integrate information gleaned from these collaborative efforts into the operations of the constituent firms. Government collaborations, on the other hand, are motivated by public-interest concerns such as getting information obtained by the government into wider circulation.

introduction to information technology and relationship with environment issues

Department of Energy, the U. These agencies have different types of related information from disparate sources and in different databases.

5 Human Impacts on the Environment: Crash Course Ecology #10

According to Pitts and Fowler this volumeEDEN seeks to provide a dynamic information system for accessing environmental data stored in diverse distributed databases. Like the collaborations in industry, the players involved in EDEN also had to agree on a framework of common approaches and a common terminology. Not only are socially responsible investor institutions on the quest for such information, but the public is also.

The extent to which information systems, mainly based on the Internet, support the development and distribution of environmentally relevant information and the potential power of this type of information distribution system usually is not well recognized, in part because of the newness of the medium.

Already, however, global environmental information networks, complete with chat rooms and instant reporting of environmentally relevant events, are being developed Knauer and Rickard, this volume.

The Internet is unique in its ability to facilitate dialog. Page 10 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Choucri this volume demonstrates how distributed knowledge-networking systems, such as the Global System for Sustainable Development GSSDcan broaden the concept of merging knowledge from science with management prescriptions.

GSSD is designed specifically for use in conjunction with Internet resources. Its knowledge base is organized as a hierarchical embedded system of entries about human activities and conditions; sustainability problems associated with human actions; current scientific and technological solutions; attendant economic, political, and regulatory solutions; and the broad range of evolving international actions and responses.

An example of how environmental information on the Internet is organized and used for broadcast and communication is provided at http: This Internet site, established by the Environmental Defense EDpulls together Toxics Release Inventory data that companies report to the EPA and relates it to specific manufacturing sites on local- or national-scale maps.

Knowledge is enhanced by linking information on specific chemicals to information on health and toxicity. By linking data and information, ED has put knowledge about emissions from specific industries and their potential harmful effects into the hands of individuals who may be affected.

The existence of the Web site allows users to act on the information they find by, for example, communicating their concerns to responsible individuals in companies or to local regulators.

The implications of these developments for companies is that they have to be vigilant in providing accurate and meaningful information to the public. You can encourage manufacturers by choosing to buy more energy-efficient and less hazardous electronics and by supporting companies that make protecting the environment a priority.

Information Technology, Its Impact on Society and Its Future

You can also do your own part to reduce environmental impact by not being wasteful and disposing of your electronics safely and properly. Carbon Emissions Carbon emissionsmostly carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, are greenhouse gasses that are produced by people.

Greenhouse gasses are gasses in the atmosphere that trap and reflect heat and radiation back to the planet's surface. It is believed that over the last century, the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has increased due to carbon emissions, and that they are contributing to global warming.

Carbon emissions get released into the atmosphere from things like cars, air planes, power plants and factories.

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They also get released by people like you, when you use a vehicle or electricity created from burning fossil fuels. The computer you're using to read this is using electricity, and so is your mobile device and video game system. We're all guilty of enjoying things that aren't exactly eco-friendly, but if we're smarter about how we use technology, we can reduce our environmental impact.

Toxic Technotrash Technotrashalso called electronic waste or e-waste, is any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic device, and is currently the most rapidly-growing type of waste. If you just throw away technotrash with the regular trash, it usually ends up in a landfill. Most electronics contain non- biodegradable materials, and heavy metals and toxic materials like cadmium, lead and mercury. Over time, these toxic materials can leak into the ground, where they can contaminate the water we drink, the plants we eat and the animals that live around the area.

Many European countries have even banned technotrash from landfills. These toxic materials can cause all kinds of bad effects including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and even cancer. If you keep eating and drinking contaminated food and water, these toxins can build up in your body. If you eat animals that have been contaminated, you're getting a double dose of toxins. What's even worse, your body can't properly process some of these metals and so they might take years to get out of your system.

To help protect the environment, don't put technotrash in with the rest of your household's garbage. Check with your local recycling centers to see if they take technotrash, or enter the type of trash and your zip code at Earth You can also ship it to a company that specializes in disposing of technotrash, like GreenDisk.

Tips for Recycling Technotrash Before you recycle your technotrashcheck out these tips: Sanitize your Hard Drive Before donating a machine, be sure to remove all of your files and data from it. Most people will just try to drag everything to the trash can or recycle bin, but this only partially erases the information!

These programs, which can be found online, work by replacing all your data with a jumble of useless nonsense. That way, your information is safe, and your good deed goes unpunished!

Whether that means helping soldiers overseas talk to their families or helping victims of domestic violence, they can be a lot more than clutter for your junk drawer.