[This is also on the WattWatt site, an online community for anyone concerned with energy efficiency]
Like every other product of the advanced manufacturing capabilities of a long-industrialised society the computers that surround us – and, for the pacemaker wearers among us, that we have taken into our bodies – carry an environmental cost.
Silicon may be cheap, but turning it into processors requires vast amounts of energy, clean water and many potentially toxic chemicals.
Some of the raw materials used elsewhere, like the coltan in our mobile phones, are extracted at great human and environmental cost.
Displays and casings may contain heavy metals and damaging chemicals, while the disposal of old computers is becoming a significant issue.
And the billions of processors, hard drives, screens and network devices that we increasingly rely upon consume more and more electrical energy, much of it wastefully generated from non-renewable sources that release carbon into the atmosphere.