LONDON It remains to be seen whether the multinational initiative called Green Touch, announced today by Alcatel Lucent's Bell Labs, can succeed in rolling back or ameliorating one of the negative and destructive aspects of human communications activity.
What Green Touch recognizes is that with exponential increases in information and communication traffic, the industry's contribution to the global carbon footprint is likely to double over the next ten years. The Green Touch initiative also recognizes that while incremental approaches to reducing energy consumption are critical, they will ultimately fail to keep pace.
Green Touch has a great number of major corporate and research institutions on-board agreeing that a radical re-architecting of the communications network is not only a necessity but is also an opportunity.
I would expect nothing less of a science- and engineering based discipline, as communications is, but this recognizes the elephant in the room; that increased consumption, the indirect goal of many businesses, maybe good for shareholders but can be bad for the planet.
There are a number of positives to be taken from the initiative in contrast to the recent Copenhagen climate change conference, which came up short of many people's hopes and expectations.
Firstly it is noteworthy that, in a move that is relatively rare in electronics, the initiative spans the continents and takes in political, research and commercial efforts from the U.S., Europe and Asia including South Korea and China.