Book Review: World Wide Waste by Gerry McGovern

Gerry McGovern’s recent tweets and blog posts about digital waste and earth-centric design really resonated with me. I was very pleased to get the chance to proof-read some drafts of the book before publication and this is my review of the finished article.

# Ever wondered where ‘the cloud’ is?

In World Wide Waste, Gerry McGovern shines a light on the vast and unseen environmental damage our appetite for technology has caused.

He provides some chilling examples of the real cost of digital. Whether it is owning a smartphone or starting a video call, he illustrates the direct impact on our planet.

The reality of ‘the cloud’ is far more prosaic than the marketing blurb would have us believe. For every photo you save or document you copy to the cloud, a computer in a data centre somewhere springs into life, heats up and consumes electricity. More often than not, the data centre housing the computer requires even more power to cool the machine down again.

In fact, the scale of the data we send and store uses enormous amounts of energy—and most of the time we are not even aware. We are fooled by how free it all seems which has allowed us all to get into some bad habits.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The argument is not that technology is inherently bad. Instead, we need to understand how our digital behaviours can have a huge positive influence on the climate emergency.

World Wide Waste contains jaw-dropping stats and thought-provoking insights. It identifies the problems but it also offers realistic solutions so we can all play a part in reducing the pollution our digital lives cause.