Instituto Latinoamericano de Terraformación

Latin American Institute of Terraforming

[Acá en castellano]

If you are in Barcelona, you can go to the Santa Monica arts center from June 9 to August 21 to see the exhibition “La irrupció” (free admission) curated by Marta Gracia, Jara Rocha, and Enric Puig Punyet. More than twenty international and local works will open a dialogue about the complex circumstances we are living on the planet after the disruption of the pandemic.

Jara Rocha <3 also invited us to think about an itinerary, which you can do in person from now until August 21, 2022. Curiously, as many of these works are digital, you can also do the itinerary remotely, completing the pieces from your imagination, ghosts, and desires. You can find it right here.

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[Here in English]

Si estás en Barcelona, puedes ir al centro de artes Santa Mònica, del 9 de junio al 21 de agosto, a ver la muestra “La irrupció” (entrada gratuita) comisariada por Marta Gracia, Jara Rocha y Enric Puig Punyet. Más de una veintena de obras internacionales y locales abrirán un diálogo sobre las complejas circunstancias que estamos viviendo en el planeta tras la disrupción de la pandemia.

Jara Rocha <3, además, nos invitó a pensar un itinerario de obras, el que puedes hacer presencialmente desde ahora al 21 de agosto del 2022. Curiosamente, como muchas de estas obras son digitales, también puedes hacer el itinerario de forma remota, completando las obras desde tu imaginación, fantasmas y deseos. Acá mismo lo encuentras.

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The Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) has finally published its final Action Plan. We discuss some of its aspects based on our comments on its preliminary draft.

Good news for us:

In general, it's challenging to compete with the imaginaries imposed by hegemonic digital technology where concepts such as “digital revolution” and “disruption” champion every time a problematic aspect is raised. The first reading of the CODES Action Plan draft, in this sense, raised an alert: once again, the mere (commercial) promise of digital technologies seemed to have more relevance than the scientific evidence on the effects of digitization (those we know and, also, very important in the planetary limits in which we find ourselves, those we do not know) on the environment. We made this apprehension known in our comments. On that occasion, we stated:

”...if CODES really wants to give greater importance to the promises of digitization concerning sustainability rather than to the environmental damage and challenges that lie ahead due to the deployment of the technologies themselves, we urge that this strategy be rethought for at least two reasons. On the one hand, and as various academic literature has recognized, the digital promise of the future is an integral part of the “capitalism as usual” engine that this same document points to as a problematic attitude. And on the other, because the environmental damage of digital technologies is real, as are its challenges, and it seems unrealistic – especially in line with official IPCC documentation – that it is not given at least the same level of importance in the text.”

We’re glad that a certain empty optimism about digitization has been left behind in the final document. A turnaround is visible from the very first pages:

(before)

(after)

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Reporte sobre el último informe del IPCC y el rol de la digitalización para la mitigación de la crisis climática

[In English, here].

El informe del Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) llamado “Climate Change 2022. Mitigation of Climate Change”, reconoce que la falta de una gobernanza adecuada de la revolución digital puede obstaculizar el papel que la digitalización podría desempeñar en el apoyo a la consecución de estrictos objetivos de objetivos de mitigación.

En este sentido, hace un llamado a aplicar de forma coordinada instrumentos políticos que puedan contribuir a acelerar el cambio en la dirección deseada. El cambio tecnológico dirigido, la regulación y las políticas públicas pueden ayudar a dirigir la digitalización, la economía compartida y la economía circular hacia la mitigación del cambio climático.

Asimismo, entiende que la digitalización debe desplegarse en el contexto de la disminución de la demanda del consumo para bajar el uso de energía.

Para el Instituto Latinoamericano de Terraformación, el informe es un avance en comprender que la digitalización no puede sostenerse solo en la promesa tecnológica hegemónica de un futuro sustentable, y necesita de políticas públicas audaces y basadas en evidencia independiente y multidisciplinaria.

Si quieres leer nuestro informe completo [haz clic acá].

#Spanish


Overview of the latest IPCC report and the role of digitalization in mitigating the climate crisis

[En castellano, acá]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report called “Climate Change 2022. Mitigation of Climate Change” recognizes that the lack of adequate governance of the digital revolution may hinder the role that digitization could play in supporting the achievement of stringent mitigation target goals.

This regard calls for the coordinated implementation of policy instruments that can help accelerate change in the desired direction. Targeted technological change, regulation, and public policy can help steer digitalization, the sharing economy, and the circular economy towards climate change mitigation.

It also understands that digitalization must be deployed in the context of decreasing consumer demand to lower energy consumption.

For the Latin American Institute of Terraforming, the report is a breakthrough in understanding that digitalization cannot be sustained only on the hegemonic technological promise of a sustainable future and needs bold public policies based on independent and multidisciplinary evidence.

Read our full report [here].

#English


By Paz Peña O.

Perhaps World Water Day, celebrated this March 22, could be an excuse to talk about how fundamental this element is for the deployment of digital technologies and how its intensive use brings socio-environmental conflicts that we are not used to hearing about. Yet, is not digitization and the digital economy the necessary step towards sustainability? Will not technological innovation be the same that will solve the intensive use of resources such as water?

Latin America, in this scenario, has a varied catalog of socio-environmental conflicts due to the use of water by digital technologies. Just to name a few: water mining for lithium extraction in the Atacama Desert, a fundamental element for the batteries of our digital devices, which has forced the displacement of indigenous populations as well as other native species; the intensive use of water by hyper-scale data centers (the cloud! ) to cool their equipment which could affect human consumption of water as well as the feeding of entire ecosystems such as wetlands; to which is added the intensive hydro-energy use to mine crypto which, in the middle of the energy transition, raises the question of how to decide socially in what clean energy is invested.

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Por Paz Peña O.

Quizás el Día Mundial del Agua, que se celebra este 22 de marzo, pueda ser una excusa para conversar sobre lo fundamental que es este elemento para el despliegue de las tecnologías digitales y cómo su uso intensivo trae conflictos socioambientales que no estamos acostumbrados a escuchar. ¿No es acaso la digitalización y la economía digital el paso necesario para la sustentabilidad? ¿No será la innovación tecnológica la misma que solucionará los usos intensivos de recursos como el agua?

América Latina, en este panorama, tiene un variado catálogo de conflictos socioambientales debido al uso del agua por las tecnologías digitales. Solo por nombrar algunas, están: la minería hídrica con la que se extrae el litio en el desierto de Atacama, elemento fundamental para las baterías de nuestros dispositivos digitales y que ha forzado desplazamiento de poblaciones indígenas además de otras especies nativas; el uso intensivo de agua de los data centers a hiper-esacala (¡la nube!) para enfriar sus equipos y que afectarían el consumo humano de agua como la alimentación de ecosistemas fundamentales como los humedales; a lo que se agrega el uso hidro energético intensivo para minar cripto que, en plena transición energética, levanta la pregunta de cómo se decide socialmente en qué se invierten las energías limpias.

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The UN Secretary-General has said that “the digital revolution can be steered to combat climate change and advance global sustainability, environmental stewardship and human well-being.”

For that reason, the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) initiative has been recently launched as an important part of the broader follow-up to the Secretary-General's Roadmap on Digital Cooperation. CODES was initiated by UNEP, UNDP, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Future Earth and Sustainability in the Digital Age, and now is leading a global multi-stakeholder process.

In this context, its first mission is to co-develop an “Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age” to identify the key shifts and strategic priorities needed to harness digital technologies to accelerate environmentally and socially sustainable development. Taking advantage of one of the last spaces to present observations to this plan, the Latin American Institute of Terraforming sent a document with its comments this month. Among the most critical points that we believe can be reinforced in the draft presented, we highlight:

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According to a November 2021 survey of IPCC scientists, a large majority believe that we are heading for a 3,0°C global temperature increase due to political inaction. In this context, it is urgent to rethink the role of digitalization and its contribution to global warming, according to scientific evidence. It is risky to assume that the new efficiencies enabled by ICT will suddenly start creating significant carbon savings in the economy at large without a strategic role for governance. Therefore, the catalytic role of the ITU must be even more critical, assertive, and decisive for the challenge of the climate crisis so as to be able to drive digital environmental justice. To this end, we suggest five actions (of many others that can be implemented), based on scientific evidence, that can be considered by ITU around greenhouse gas emissions due to ICT use:

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Intervención de Paz Peña, coordinadora del Instituto Latinoamericano de Terraformación, en el evento “Tecnologías y medio ambiente: respuestas desde el Sur”, organizado por ALAI y APC, el 4 de noviembre del 20201.

***

Antes de concentrarme en las respuestas desde el Sur a los desafíos de las tecnologías y el medio ambiente, quisiera reparar en algo que creo que nunca le damos el peso necesario, es decir, el desafío planetario al que nos enfrentamos como humanidad.

Se trata de la posibilidad, cierta, de la extinción humana en tan solo unas generaciones más, la que va de la mano con la desaparición de otras especies conocidas y por conocer. La extinción es, por ahora, el camino que hemos elegido, a menos que disminuyamos, drásticamente, la emisión de gases invernadero en los próximos años y, aún más, modifiquemos de raíz el modelo capitalista extractivista, colonialista y de supremacía humana que nos ha llevado a la orilla del abismo.

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