Facebook is under fire, again. But perhaps its problems are more fundamental.
By Lottie Limb • Updated: 22/09/2021 – 17:15
Millions of new iPhone 13s will be wending their way to excited customers this week, with the new model’s release on Friday.
Its new and improved features include a smaller carbon footprint: the iPhone 13 represents 64kg CO2e in greenhouse gases compared to 72kg CO2e for the equivalent iPhone 12.
But trading in your old smartphone for the newest model is the worst thing you could do. According to Apple’s own metrics, 81 per cent of the phone’s lifecycle carbon emissions are released during production.
The energy required to mine the rare materials for iPhones is huge. According to one report, “buying a new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade.”
Resisting the urge to own the latest iPhone won’t reverse emissions for the products hitting the shelves on Friday, but it will help to limit how many phones are made in the future.
It’s possible that the analogy multiple professors pointed to — filing cabinets — is no longer useful since many students Drossman’s age spent their high school years storing documents in the likes of OneDrive and Dropbox rather than in physical spaces. It could also have to do with the other software they’re accustomed to — dominant smartphone apps like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube all involve pulling content from a vast online sea rather than locating it within a nested hierarchy. “When I want to scroll over to Snapchat, Twitter, they’re not in any particular order, but I know exactly where they are,” says Vogel, who is a devoted iPhone user. Some of it boils down to muscle memory.
This story is part of Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.