Exponential growth and Earth Day

earthdayOn this Earth Day, there is little doubt that we are living in an exponential society as opposed to linear one. Change is happening so rapidly and broadly that it challenges our traditional (linear) way of thinking. Technology’s ability to enable change in other industries has been discussed by many over the years, but since the disruptions can be so insidious, they can still surprise us. The number and breadth of the change we’re seeing (or that’s happening behind the scenes that we’re not aware of) is staggering.

Whether it is the growth of computing capabilities, data storage or even gene sequencing (as examples), it isn’t the growth in one area where the impact is felt. It is the change in the surrounding environment where those skills can also be applied that offer the greatest surprises. Like using the understanding of genetics to clone the long extinct Woolly Mammoth.

There are many ways that IT can help with efficiency in the world around us, by providing better measurement, analytics, visibility and control to how energy is being consumed and waste produced. I had a post previously that discussed the various levels where sustainability change can take place– even within a data center. The whole Green IT movement reinforces this perspective on using the power of IT to be more efficient thought it could still be expanded to view the problem holistically, since it needs to address more than just green data centers.

Some more references to areas of exponential growth:

And if these are the secondary effects, the tertiary effects to industries like insurance, transportation, law are not close to being understood, in my opinion.

Where do you think we’ll see the impact of these capabilities? Will that make our planet a better place?