Muscat: An initiative launched in Muscat this week will encourage computer-users to save energy and protect the environment.
Malaysian green computing expert, Matthew Rajendra, Asian Regional Director for Green Computing Initiative (GCI), was here earlier this week teaching people about how to reduce the environmental impact of computers. His field, green computing, also known as sustainable computing or green Information and Communications Technology (ICT), is the sustainable use of IT infrastructure with low or zero effects on the environment.
"When you use the computer or charge your mobile, you consume electricity, and obviously the power plant is polluting. In one go we are reducing electricity bills and saving the planet at the same time," Rajendra told Times of Oman.
Over the past few days in Muscat, Rajendra taught a basic course in green ICT called Understanding and Utilising Green Computing Technologies. Participants learned recycling computers properly so they don't leak chemicals into the environment; conserving energy on a computer, such as setting the computer to hibernate instead of standby and buying green; and they learned about their own carbon footprints, or impacts on the environment.
"In 2011, the global ICT industry contributed 2.7 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and it's growing by 6 percent a year. If we're not careful, ICT is slated to become one of the biggest contributors to global warming in the coming years," Rajendra said.
By 2020, four billion people are expected to be online, using computers, which run on electricity. Power sources for electricity, such as coal and gas, are pollutants, so an increased use of computers means more pollution.
For example, leaving a desktop computer turned on for 10 hours a day all year consumes enough energy to produce one metric ton of carbon dioxide, which is a huge amount, Rajendra explained.
Rajendra also made a presentation to students at Modern College of Technology that covered the basic points of the course. "What we're looking forward to here in Oman is a series of programmes on awareness about how ICT affects the environment," he said.
Rajendra says that throughout the Middle East there is the need to promote awareness of environmental sustainability and reducing energy consumption.
The GCC, in particular, has a high level of energy consumption because the low costs don't deter individuals or companies from conserving energy.
There are ways individuals can save energy, such as turning off their computers when they aren't using them and buying appropriate computers for their needs. Companies can also do a lot more to save energy, such as outsourcing their email servers to big companies like Gmail, he explained.
As oil and gas supplies diminish, the price of energy will increase, which should be good motivation to consume less energy, Rajendra said. But in the meantime, in the GCC, people need to be made aware of the environmental impact computer use can have and change their behaviour for eco-friendly reasons.
"What needs to happen is a behavioural change," Rajendra said.
Jose Chacko, CEO of Al Osool Al Arabia LLC, which is GCI's authorised training provider in the Middle East, said there is interest from individuals, businesses, academic institutions, and ministries, including PDO, Bank Muscat and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, in learning about green computing. For that reason, Al Osool will now start training people to be certified in green ICT and teach others about the need to be environmentally-conscious computer users.
"Global warming is happening everywhere and in Oman we're not taking the proper steps. There's not enough awareness," Chacko added.