Ever since the beginning of the 21st century, the world has experienced a momentous transformation in information technology. This change has enabled many people to move with the times and make their lives better as many countries have developed more from the information and technology boom. The last ten years have especially experienced the most transformation in the information revolution process. In the past ten years, more people in all parts of the world are now connected to the internet which is the center of the information revolution. However, despite all the benefits that the increase in development of the information system technology presents, there are numerous accompanying demerits. These effects harmfully affect the environment and lower its ability to sustain life on earth. There are also some companies and organizations that have made a significant initiative to ensure that they offset the numerous harmful effects of the technology and information boom.
Ever since the beginning of the 21st century, the world has experienced dynamic transformations in technology and information. However, Jessup et al. (2008) argue that it is not the information part of the revolution that drives the effect of the whole event, neither is it the artificial intelligence that drives the entire information system. Jessup et al. (2008) also suggest that the chief instigator of the transformation that could not have been envisioned a decade ago is the emergence and development of e-commerce as a significant online distribution channel. E-commerce has developed to an essential form of exchange between various people from all over the world. It is now used in the day to day activities of distributing goods, services, and even for the corporate world for managerial businesses and professions. The information exchange based system is profoundly transforming various economies, markets, and different industry structures where new forms of trading structures are established and are used to guide multiple trading and economic activities. The flow of products and services, type of customer division, consumer standards, and consumer performances are also influenced by the growth of the information system through e-commerce and other features (Cuaresma et al. 2010). The impact made ever since information systems took over the world operations and economies have been significant mostly to societies and politics. However, the most notable effect is the one regarding the way humans perceive the world and their life on earth.
As time goes by, and many more technologies are introduced in the course of the millennia, there will no doubt arise some new and more profound technologies that will further transform the global information system. Jessup et al. (2008) suggest that it is very likely that many new technologies will emerge whereby there will be an introduction to new methods and techniques of conducting various operations and business. There will also be the development of already existing systems and procedures that will have better and more efficient functionalities. It is possible that the changes initiated by the new technologies and techniques will occur abruptly and ultimately lead to the emergence of new industries (Christoff, 2013). This is a projection made by various researchers and scientists who predict that the most significant change will occur in the computer and information technology area where there has been most development over the past decade and ever since the beginning of the 21st century. An excellent example of a promising technology that is expected to grow fast is biotechnology that is likely to arise from its own exceptional and unexpected technology.
The central element of the information revolution if possibly the rapidly growing economic, social and technological contribution of information. Information related activities are now primary drivers of the global economy whereby different operations and processes all depend on the application of one or multiple forms of information system technologies. Christoff (2013) states that the worlds technological ability to transfer information via broadcast links has grown significantly over the past ten years at a sustained average compound growth rate of 8%. There has also been a growth in its capacity to store and compute new information with the assistance of guided computers. All these processes and new applications of information technology in the world has made it necessary for more people to gain access to more powered devices that can access various information systems (Cuaresma et al. 2010). These gadgets are now available almost everywhere since they apply to nearly every aspect of the day to day activities and operations of life, business, healthcare, among other areas. The need for more powered devices that support the latest technologies means that there will be more of these devices everywhere in the world. Gadgets such as televisions, radios, and smartphones that mostly facilitate communication and networking are now in many homes and places of work. They have become a necessity in the day to day lives of almost every human being. They help to make life easier by enabling effective and efficient communication. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is one of the newer applications of information systems that promote the use of devices not only at home but also in the workplace. The appendix section has more information about BYOD.
Effects of Information Systems on the Environment
The increase in technology and information systems development in the world in the past decade is considered one of the primary reasons for the current environmental issues facing the world today. It is believed that the increase in technological advancement no matter how beneficial to the society and various human economic and social activities has had a counterproductive effect on the environment (Singh & Kumar, 2017). Apart from the adverse impact that Information Communication Technology (ICT) has on the environment, it also negatively impacts the health of animals and humans alike.
ICT and its components are considered to have a direct effect on the destruction of the environment mainly through the production of a significant amount of ICT waste and related greenhouse gases (Singh & Kumar, 2017). Since various businesses and producers are more focused on the profitability aspect of their operations, some of them tend to ignore the adverse effects that their activities and the technologies they use to have on the environment. Apart from the producers, many homes in the world are now more ICT equipped which means that they have more ICT powered devices that enable them to perform day to day tasks efficiently. Millions of people now have smartphones and other ICT devices that allow them to communicate, work, travel, manage operations, among other human activities (Jessup et al., 2008). These devices are prone to damage or wearing out which means that they will have to be disposed or destroyed. The result of the disposal of millions of devices every year is the pilling up of a significant amount of ICT waste which is extremely harmful to the environment.
Christoff (2013) suggests that the operation aspect of ICT devices and the supported information system has a relatively small production of greenhouse gases. These gadgets include the many electronic devices used in homes, offices and industrial data centers that feed the internet which is the most extensive information system in the world. Christoff (2013) also mentions that the upgrade in computers from the big machines to the more recent personal devices such as laptops is the main reason for the existence of a significant amount of ICT waste or electronic waste (e-waste). Singh & Kumar (2017) define e-waste as an informal term refereeing to any electrical or electronic appliance that has reached its end of life or one that has no utilization value. These appliances range from big house equipment such as refrigerators, stereo systems, and computers, to smaller hand, held digital devices such as mobile phones. However, in ICT the appliances mostly focus on computer-related components such as its peripherals, communication devices, and other information technology devices. The presence of highly toxic heavy metals such a mercury and lead that are present in many electronic devices can cause severe and life-threatening health issues. They can kill various organisms in the ecosystem and therefore make the environment less sustainable for life on earth.
The excess use of ICT devices at home, at work and other places; which is virtually anywhere due to the high dependence on technology, is also considered to have some adverse effects on the environment. The ability to connect and network on different devices with different people requires the use of wireless connectivity to communication devices that use various invisible wireless radiations. Numerous scientific researchers have indicated that the radiation produced from wireless technologies may lead to silent health problems after an extended period of exposure to high amounts of radiation (Singh & Kumar, 2017). The researchers believe that many birds could go extinct in areas with high Wi-Fi connectivity.
When addressing the issue of ICT being a significant contributor to the environmental damage, it is essential to consider some questions such as what part of the ICT industry is responsible for much of the ecological destruction. It is also important to know what ICT products add to the harm with associated measures that can reduce it. Singh & Kumar (2017) suggest that it is profoundly crucial also to know the kind of environmental damage experienced and the degree of impact. All these questions should be answered before any effort is made to try and mitigate the environmental issues related to information systems and associated components.
Organization Efforts in Offsetting Cost of Information Technology Boom
Despite the numerous challenges associated with information systems and related components, ICT can be a useful tool in the lessening of environmental destruction in the world. According to Singh & Kumar (2017), there could be either helpful or detrimental effect of technology conditional on the strategy of assisting policies. From the current point of reference regarding the environmental degradation level, it is projected that the fast growth of information systems and various technologies could be useful in reinforcing a positive impact on the environment. However, there is also a significant probability of the opposite happening whereby the development of information systems causes a reverse reaction leading to further deterioration of the environment (Cuaresma et al. 2010). Many companies and organizations have made changes to their policies to make sure that the current growth of information and technology systems does not lead to disaster but instead makes positive contributions. Such organization includes Microsoft which is among the largest producers of computer devices in the world.
Many companies in an attempt to reduce the effect of the growth of information systems and accompanying technologies all over the world are now turning to more energy saving methods to power their systems. Various measures have been employed to some originations buildings that improve the rational utilization of heating energy. These actions aim to reduce the use of harmful forms of energy sources to power information systems. Even with the energy saving tactics deployed, it is considered that the contribution of information technology systems to the degradation of the environment is mainly caused by the careless disposal of ICT waste material. Christoff (2013) mentions that according to resea...
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