by May 1, 2010 0 comments



I write this on Earth Day, founded forty years ago on April 22, celebrated in
175 countries, some marking it as the beginning of Earth Week.

With all our modern tech, we’re still pretty subservient to  nature. It took
one volcano to disrupt global flight operations for months, threatening to wipe
out several airlines, and nearly crippling major European economies (I won’t
count in that category the volcano’s home nation of Iceland, which went bankrupt
in 2008).

Amidst all the global warming and the rising heat (North India is seeing
night-time minimum temperatures 10 degrees higher than normal), Earth Day is
always a good time to wonder on the tech that will save our small planet this
year.

I’ve said this for years on this page: sustainable green initiatives are
driven either by clear business benefit, or by law. CSR plays a small role, and
it works only when the green program is integrated into business objectives-such
as “corporate image building”. Companies in the hospitality sector, such as ITC
(they of the LEEDS platinum Green Center next to my office in Gurgaon), have
understood this well.

The greening of activities still mired in twentieth-century processes usually
lacks clarity of business benefit-or faces some single obstacle.

Take cheques. They’re  a major consumer of paper (and trees). How long has
electronic payment been around? I’ve been making payments online for well over a
decade, including mobile payments and automatic online bill payments. But while
my salary is also electronically credited, my company, like most others, still
uses cheques for external payments. What’s missing is a way to manage the
payment authorization and control within the business, in a safe, secure,
transparent way. There is tech, but it’s not simple and affordable enough. But
imagine if authorization is integrated into the workflow (and cash flow) on one
end, and the bank’s payment gateway on the other…

Among the biggest of “green tech” impactors this year will be an
organization, BEE-the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, whose two-year-old star
rating system is finally making its mark-with consumers demanding to know the
star rating of airconditioners and fridges. Even though compliance remains
voluntary, the driver is economics and cost consciousness. Indian consumers will
spend a bit more on a to save on running costs, whether they’re buying a car or
electrical equipment.

The product I’ve used this year with the biggest global “green impact”
potential is Amazon’s Kindle. I say “potential” because it’s still in the
ramp-up mode where the sheer carbon footprint of a million of these devices
could outweigh the paper savings, but that should quickly change as users begin
to buy millions of e-books.

And then there’s the iPad.

Did I say I’m writing this in Earth Week? I should’ve said I’m writing this
in the month the iPad came, at the appointed hour, to save the world from all
its problems and those yet to be discovered. It didn’t come into India in the
same month, because all available pieces were lapped up by Americans (and those
global early birds who got friends and relatives to bring in a unit for  them).
But the world and its internet went iPad crazy.

The iPad, too, has high green impact potential, once  publication content
picks up on the platform.

All in all, expect to see much excitement about-and a lot of adoption
of-green tech in 2010.

Prasanto K Roy
pkr@cybermedia.co.in  is
Chief Editor of CyberMedia’s ICT Publications

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