A gripping new investigation into the underbelly of digital technology, which reveals not only how costly the virtual world is, but how damaging it is to the environment.
The Dark Cloud is the searing exposé of the immense toll the “cloud” takes on our environment. A simple “like” sent from our smartphones mobilizes a cascade of invisible consequences. This small notification, crossing the seven operating layers of the internet, travels around the world, using submarine cables, telephone antennas, and data centers, going as far as the Arctic Circle in what will soon constitute the largest infrastructure built by man.
It turns out that the digital world, essential for communicating, working, and consuming, is much more tangible than we would like to believe. Today, it absorbs 10 percent of the world’s electricity and represents nearly 4 percent of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions. We are struggling to understand these impacts, as they are obscured to us in the mirage of “the cloud.”
In this follow-up to his global bestselling book, The Rare Metals War, Pitron, a journalist, researched the dark truth behind the easy mirage of our digital world, in an investigation carried out over two years, across four continents. The result shows the anatomy of a technology virtual only in name. Pitron argues that the cloud needs to be exposed and understood—because our future is implicated.
Praise for The Rare Metals War:
“Pitron weighs the awful price of refining the materials, ably blending investigative journalism with insights from science, politics and business.”
Simon Ings, New Scientist
“[E]xposes the dirty underpinnings of clean technologies in a debut that raises valid questions about energy extraction.”
“An expert account of a poorly understood but critical element in our economy … Pitron delivers a gripping, detailed, and discouraging explanation.”
“Guillaume Pitron recalls the origins of digital technology and explains how this new communication tool has catastrophic consequences on our environment,… What happens when you send an email? What is the geography of clicks? What ecological and geopolitical challenges do they bring without our knowledge? This is the subject of The Dark Cloud… For two years, the journalist followed, on four continents, the route of our emails, our likes, and our vacation photos.”
Margherita Nasi, Le Monde
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“Today has two battlegrounds—carbon and silicon. In The Dark Cloud, journalist Guillaume Pitron explains the distinction between these two battlegrounds is a carefully crafted illusion. Our screens are not portals to an infinity beyond the material. Far from lacking a footprint, technology actually has an immense cost in resources, energy and environmental destruction … Pitron is a master of articulating the material cost of the “immaterial” … It’s only through works such as Dark Cloud… that laboriously map the immense, insatiable machine that we realise it’s one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock, and we’re all asleep. Well, here is your wake-up call.”
Jason Steger, The Sydney Morning Herald