For years now people have predicted what the future will look like; many have had incredibly unrealistic expectations and others have been pretty spot on. But if we look at developments over the past decade, it’s clear to see where we want the future to go. Since climate change actually became a pressing issue and people became more aware of it, we can see that before any flying cars are invented we need to first enable people to drive cars on the ground without destroying the planet.
The future is currently about making things more energy efficient. I personally believe that we should start making everything we use and own as energy efficient as possible, in order to save the limited materials we have on this planet and before our atmosphere is destroyed (this of course is a bit of an over-statement, but you get the point).
Throughout Birmingham the council are replacing much of the road and street lighting to energy efficient LED lighting. But at what point do we start to cross the line of energy efficiency with energy-hogging futuristic devices? I’m sure I’m not the only one who receives countless emails with “Think about the environment before you print this email” at the bottom. It’s a fair point, if we want to start saving the planet let’s stop wasting paper. But again, where do we draw the line at wasting materials?
It’s true that printing an email is unnecessary since it’s already available to be read on your computer. But the world seems to have developed this concept that content shouldn’t be printed on paper. If you enter Burger King nowadays you’ll notice their menu is shown on nice vivid LCD displays. Those displays change maybe once or twice a day (to switch between breakfast and lunch menus) and BK change their menus maybe once every few months.
In what world is leaving a display on permanently for months on end more energy efficient that printing new menus every few months. It’s not! And sorry to Burger King for singling you out here but you didn’t get the balance. Sure it looks nice and it’s more convenient but it’s doing way more harm to the planet that just printing on to paper. With the right display, there’s no reason why a printed menu display cannot look sleek and modern like an LCD display can.
It’s examples like this that really grind my gears. You’ll notice similar disappointments on dual carriageways around major cities; huge LED displays showing adverts that are illuminated 24/7 and change every few weeks. This is not the energy efficient future that we should be striving for.
There is however a balance. I like a lot of people today read the news on my iPad instead of buying a paper. Sure tablets consume electricity like the displays I just mentioned, but regardless of whether or not I’m reading that paper my iPad will still be consuming electricity.
The balance is using electronic devices to display static data that would already consume electricity regardless, rather than replacing static content printed on paper with static data shown on an energy-hungry display.