The Environmental Pros & Cons of Using Computer Technology

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Technology includes both pros and cons. Over the last 200 years, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds --- oftentimes advancing so fast that relatively little thought has been put into potential consequences. One victim has been the environment.

With computers at the forefront of the technological race, it's important to ask questions regarding the environmental pros and cons of using computer technology.

Digital Information

One of the key advantages computers provide is a digital shift. Once upon a time, everything was written in physical document format. This created a strong dependence on paper. Today, the shift has changed to a virtual medium, where paper is becoming less and less critical to everyday tasks. Deforestation issues have caused significant problems worldwide, altering climates and habitats, as well as causing many species to become endangered or go extinct all together.

Less Electricity

As computer technology becomes improved, smaller and integrated into other types of software, its power consumption becomes critical. The majority of the world's power stems from fossil fuels, which when burnt, damage environmental health. Fossil fuel use is also suspected as one of the main contributors to global warming --- a phenomenon that has caused a sudden shift in worldwide temperatures. Although the fact that computers require power at all is a negative factor, as technology progresses, computers require less and less electricity.

Electronic Waste

One large problem with computers --- as well as other electronic devices --- has been with electronic waste, or e-waste. When people are done with computer hardware, they generally throw it out with the garbage, where it often ends up in landfills. The downside to this is that some waste, specifically cathode-ray tubes, is considered harmful. The Environmental Protection Agency puts forth tremendous effort in protecting the environment from e-waste.


One indirect benefit that has been brought about computers and ultimately, the Internet, is connection. The Internet has become a prime outlet for human networking. Messages, both good and bad, can be widespread. One positive benefit has been the ability to raise awareness about environmental concerns -- whether global warming or pollution issues.