Can Techies be eco? Why I believe that green ambitions have to be a part of the modern geeks’ self perception.

I am a Techie.

A full-time-Techie, spending my days in front of a screen creating digital tools and web-applications for human life and comfort.

On a scale that shows nature and culture as two extreme opposites, I’ll have to place myself at the very cultural end. I mean, what is further away from nature and physical life than this spaced out sphere called the digital world?

Right. Not too much.

But it has to be mentioned that I did not grow up with this way of life at all. To the contrary! In the nineties, my family and I were Ecos living in a low-energy house, eating muesli a long time before it became cool. And me, the Techie-to-be — I hated it.

To be eco not just meant to be a little bit weird. It meant to be a total freak — and back then I haven’t chosen to be one.

I simply didn’t want to sacrifice anything the market offers me to fit my parent’s idealistic beliefs. I mean … my biggest desire simply was to eat meat. And I really wanted to spend money on all those fancy things I saw in other people’s houses instead of seeing my parents spending it on boring clothes and all the eco-food I haven’t liked. So I decided to go a different way as soon as I could.

When I was old enough to go to university, my personal mission was to leave this hippie stuff behind and to become a well-paid engineer in the automotive industry.

At the same time, I was thrilled by the sheer potential of zeros and ones pouring out of teraflops in abundance.

And fortunately, my parents were happy for me to find something I was passionate about. They supported me in becoming a car chassis engineer with a strong focus on computer aided optimization — even if my mother totally underestimated the work with computers in general.

Since then, I have worked for an uncountable number of companies as a full stack engineer creating complex software and web applications, helping them to automate and to improve their businesses on the digital and technical side.

This is how it goes.

Years later, at some point in private life and far away from my work desk, I became a father of twins. This meant double happiness, double of work, and, of course, double responsibility.

Then the following happened:

I finally realized that my parents have been incredibly progressive and forward thinking people. More than that. They must have been entirely right with their lifelong convictions to take responsibility. Not just for the environment — but also for their children’s and grandchildren’s future. At a stroke — I could feel that deep inside. The eco in me shook hands with the modern, urban Techie that I was and both became friends.

I decided to take responsibility for future generations too — but within my own boundaries and by choosing my own tools.

In the meantime, friends have shown me how much the eco-scene has changed. It no longer smelled like organic stores. I was confused about how I could be blind to my family background in this scene for so long — while the lifestyle finally became sexy, fun, and innovative without me noticing.

Where the Techie and the Eco in me meet.

Here are four examples of how engineers and developers can use their expertise and skills to save the climate and environment:

Bionic It has to be mentioned that the complexity created by nature is just mind-blowing. The most complex human-made systems are just coarse compared. Nature offers countless solutions for problems creatures of any type have to deal with in the physical world. By studying and copying those solutions for technical issues, biologically inspired engineering is constantly interacting with ecology.

When it comes to computer science, the bionic, for example, helped to create artificial neural networks. Now it’s up to us to make this technology a useful tool for solving our environmental problems.

Envirotech Technical innovations alone will not solve all our problems, even if many people hope so. But they will be a big part of the solution for sure. To ensure this, environmental technologists are constantly trying to conserve the natural environment and resources by creating technical solutions that lower human actions’ negative impacts on the environment.

Renewable energy and solid waste management can be seen as two of many more impactful subcategories of Envirotech.

Green computing By trying to minimize the negative environmental impact energy consumption of digital services have on the planet, many of us forget that computers can be a dirty thing itself — when not produced in the most eco-friendly way. To do so, the IT-discipline of green computing is trying to design and manufacture our devices as energy-efficient and recyclable as possible.

Sustainable Software Engineering What takes effect on hardware (see above) can also be applied to the software itself. In most cases, the aspects of sustainability are not taken into account in software development. And this is something that really has to change. So sustainable coding describes the implementation of specific standards into a software’s DNA to lower its weight (size downloaded by clients) and runtime energy demand.

For an Eco-Techie like me, all these disciplines involve beautiful opportunities to do something BIG.

The digitalization of the environmental-movement has just begun.

Besides the “inside-the-industry-solutions,” many green tools and services are appearing on our screens. Enabling nearly everyone to have a positive impact through the digital sphere.

  • A search engine planting trees.
  • A data center powered by renewable energy.
  • A tracker for online carbon emissions. Carbonalyzer
  • A software solution for digitalisation of energy grids. Envelio
  • A digital online platform for circular plastics. cirplus
  • An App making sure your food is made sustainable. Giki

It seems like many Techies already have understood that we, as the architects of the digital world, can have an immensely positive impact by sitting in front of a computer. But there is a lot more work to do for us.

What is your idea to make tech a bit more eco and environmentalism a bit more digital?

#digitalaction #codeforclimate

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