I’ve been reading a book I got for Christmas called ‘Home’ by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (the Earth from the Air author).  I thought it looked a bit cheesy, but either way it’s got me thinking.  Mostly about what we do as Communications/Marketing professionals and what our clients and other brands are aspiring to do in maintaining consumption patterns and reaching new markets – particularly BRIC and developing.

Some of the stats in the book are incredible.  It states that Humanity’s footprint currently exceeds the capacity of the planet to regenerate itself and to absorb pollution by about 30% (Global Footprint Network).  It adds that if the entire population of the world lived like the USA we would need six planets to meet demand, if everyone mirrored European consumption we would need three planets.  You can see the potential for growth and development given that in 2008 only 5% of Africans had access to the internet as opposed to 73% of North Americans (international Telecommunication union).  Average energy consumption patterns of individuals in given countries help demonstrate the issue: US 13,088 kWh; South Asia 483, Central Africa 110.  What happens if we all mirror the US?  That’s a lot of energy.

As ccommunicators in the IT industry why should we  care?  IT has great potential for good (a mobile phone can change a community and empower them with the tools to do business and make a living) but also harm.  Electronics is one of five major sources of hazardous waste containing arsenic, PCB Chemicals, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, Chromium
(Basel Convention 2002).  Oh and there is the small matter that the IT industry is responsible for the same level of
greenhouse gas emissions as the aeronautics industry.  So what do we mean by Sustainable IT in real terms?  Is any of it truly sustainable?

So as communications professionals and marketing people promoting IT goods and services in new markets and driving consumption patterns in the West – what responsibility do we have in the council we give clients?  Would we ever consider the agenda of a prospect and decline based on their ethos/record?  I’m just not sure an agency would turn business down, we’d just change the messaging.  Or should we just not think too much about it?  I mean there is a
recession on, people need jobs, countries should be allowed to develop.  I’m increasingly finding it hard to not think
about it.  Your thoughts?