Computer chips destroying the planet

This isn’t new news, but it came out of comments to another post. Weight for weight, the average computer chip does more harm to the environment than the car.

A team at the United Nations University in Tokyo found that to make one 2-gram memory chip requires:

  • 1.6kg of fossil fuel
  • 72g of chemicals
  • 32kg of water

That last one truly scares me — especially as I’m guessing the water has to be pure to wash microscopic components.

2 Replies to “Computer chips destroying the planet”

  1. Weight-for-weight is too easy. Let’s try per capita, instead.

    They give the input:output ratio as 700:1 for the chip, compared to 2:1 for the car. The car weighs a million times more than the chip. Even if I have a hundred chips in my footprint, thanks to use of networked computers, that’s still only 140kg of inputs compared to at least 1,000kg for my share of the car.

    That’s one bucketload of water, though. No pun intended.

  2. @Garth: I reckon you’d have a lot more than 100 chips in your footprint. I’m looking around my desk now — three computers, one mobile phone, one cordless landline, a set of speakers, and iPod, a little digital camera thingo, a USB memory key, my passport (RFID-enabled) — I reckon that’s well over 100 chips there and I haven’t even turned my head yet, let alone stood up.

Comments are closed.