Eco-Advantage Blog

August 22, 2009 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

Moore's Law and the Environment: An Opportunity

[From Andrew’s column on Harvard Business Online]

Everything’s getting faster these days—you’ve heard it before. Two mega-trends in particular are merging: rapidly accelerating technological change and rapidly evolving environmental issues and pressures. Lucky for us, the first change is going to save our butts from the second. Fast-evolving, smart IT will play a critical role in helping us navigate and profit from environmental challenges. The two trends together are combining to make for enduring change in how business is done, a movement to a permanently higher plane of green and tech-driven activity.

A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Ten-Year Century,” makes the well-known case that the pace of transformation in society is accelerating. More has changed, the authors say, in this decade than in the previous century. To be specific,

Changes that used to take generations—economic cycles, cultural shifts, mass migrations, changes in the structures of families and institutions—now unfurl in a span of years… Game-changing consumer products and services (iPod, smart phones, YouTube, Twitter, blogs) that historically might have appeared once every five or more years roll out within months.

The “Laws” of Technology that the authors highlight—Moore’s and Metcalfe’s—perfectly describe how quickly both computational power and networking capacity are growing (double the computing power on every chip every 18 months, for example). It’s a “law” in the world of technology that things are steadily getting faster.

But this op-ed and other “tech is changing the world so fast” stories—and I’m a sucker for them—miss the another big shift that’s moving just as fast: the degradation of the natural world and the resulting pressure to green society and business.

[The rest of this blog appears here]

 

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