Thursday, June 18, 2009

Videoconferencing is NOT Necessarily Always Eco-Friendly

In the CALI Conference program today, “Videoconferencing Without Busting Your Budget” - which had a LOT of good information - a clip was shown from a professor talking about how videoconferencing (“VC”) was more eco-friendly than taking a plane to whatever meeting where he needed to speak ("the increase in emissions from the speaker boarding and flying an airplane are significantly greater than the electricity used in VC").

If you have to drive a car to your destination, like another professor in a different clip said then, yes, VC is more green. But unless you’re talking about the alternative of flying your private jet to the distant class/presentation/whatever, VC is not necessarily more eco-friendly compared to air travel because any given commercial airline flight to whatever destination is still going to fly whether or not the professor is on it. If empty seats are available the additional fuel expenditure due to the presence of your body and luggage on the plane probably pales in comparison to the environmental cost of videoconferencing for the 20+ students who will have to fire up their laptops and stayed glued to them for the hour or so you are videoconferencing with them: not all of them will have been on their laptop for that hour anyway, and I would bet that the environmental impact of the extra electricity that it takes for them to be on-line with your VC feed is more than the impact of you being an extra body on the airplane. (And even if that flight was overbooked, bumping passengers to other flights will still only result in a slight marginal increase in the total passenger/baggage mass being flown.)

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