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How much is supporting Free Software/Culture helping climate/energy crisis?

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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12

Movements for Free Software and Free Culture are essentially movements for freedom in realms related to digital technology (which are increasingly all realms involving knowledge and culture) and as such they are a part of a movement towards solving social and economic injustices in general.

However, considering their potentially even more fundamental negative impact, would it be reasonable to suggest that energy and climate crisis issues are more important than these freedom issues?

How much is freedom worth if we don't have a planet on which we can live healthy lives on? Or how much is freedom worth if we don't have the needed resources for normal life? It does seem that these issues are much more fundamental for our mere existence than the availability of freedom. It pretty much comes down to the question of, what is freedom worth if you can't live?

But yes, it can be turned the other way around. What is life worth if you don't have freedom?

Well that makes the topic a bit more interesting, perhaps. But the general idea is to determine how much of a real effect do the freedom movements have on these more fundamental existential issues such as saving the world's climate as human friendly and solving the looming energy crisis. The more meaningful this effect is, the better we can justify focusing and specializing so much to the digital freedom movements (Free Software, Free Culture and related).

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Daniel Memenode signature

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
I guess free software is not

I guess free software is not very energy-efficient on the developer side (many distributions using energy to compile more or less the same thing), but on the other hand many efficient computers run free software. To put it bluntly, windows vista certainly isn't the way to go to be energy-efficient.

Looking at the issue from a different perspective, maybe free software could make climate research computing available to more scientists?

And free culture... it might help with spreading information.

dylunio's picture
User offline. Last seen 11 years 30 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2005-05-08
Free software gives us the

Free software gives us the ability to make more efficient software, which takes less time to run etc. thus needing computers switched on for less time, saving energy. Free Software also makes it easier for equipment designers to create new, small energy efficient devices as it means they can invest more time and money in the hardware, as they don't have to develop a full software stack.

These I slightly pitiful examples for big ideas of Freedom v. Survival, but there we are, Free Software is connected to to how the world lives, though often more as a practical tool and not because of the four freedoms.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Dylunio I suppose you mean

Dylunio I suppose you mean running at full capacity less time, because I don't really see much of a difference between the overall running time with Free Software as opposed to other. I mean, we don't exactly use our computers in such a way to run a certain program and do certain thing and then immediately turn it off and then back on to do some other thing - there's an idle time and energy efficient software lets computer be idle more and when running at full capacity do more.

Anyway, I think that freedom is a largely political issue and when we consider that there are certain political obstacles to solving these big problems (energy, climate) usually because of the entrenched interests then freedom becomes a very powerful tool for solving such artificial political obstacles. We all know about big oil, for example, for which we reasonably assume doesn't really welcome mass switching to alternative energy sources. Without certain basic freedoms we can't stand up to them.

So how does software freedom fit in? I suppose it gives us the necessary tools to be meaningful participants of a worldwide digital community including movements for solving these big problems without making us dependent on big business and their biased interests. It gives us that much more independence overall and makes it harder for anyone to control or suppress what we are doing. Basically, Free Software is a perfect activist tool, exactly because of the freedoms and subsequent independence that we have with it. It is software which we can trust will fully cooperate with us in doing our job. Smiling

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Daniel Memenode signature

User offline. Last seen 7 years 26 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-26
Libervisco that last

Libervisco that last paragraph in particular, spot on in my view.

There are parallels with another issue I've wrestled with, would free enterprise decay into capitalism for all and make the world worse? The answer to me is that the danger is real, but only if the work is not carried out in an improving geopolitical context.

Back to free software, the explosion of gadgets for example is to an extent fuelled by free software. This trend is increasing, and consequently so are consumption and pollution. Should programmers feel dirty and guilty?

No, would be my view. What's needed alongside FS development is awareness and promotion of a green lifestyle. People are already doing that job in ever increasing numbers, and free software is helping them. In this context the threat of climate change is actually another reason (on top of hunger etc) for free software programmers and advocates to focus on doing their part even more strenuously.

Specialisation makes perfect sense, I'd say keep an eye on the wider issues and an open mind to alternative approaches, meanwhile do your best and insist on feeling good about your contribution.

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