By Nirvana Bhatia
MA candidate in International Human Rights
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
In 20 years, roughly half of the Indian subcontinent is still unlikely to have access to information-communication technology, such as broadband access and mobile phones. That's according to a recent report by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, which forecasts possible situations in global issues.
Josef Korbel School Ph.D. candidate Jonathan Moyer was part of the team that recently presented their forecasting data to the European Commission, a branch of the European Union, in hopes of influencing future policy. The project looks at the relationship between information-communication technology and carbon emissions through energy consumption.
"ICT makes you consume more energy because you're more productive, but it's also less energy because you're more efficient," Moyer said.
There was no consensus in academic policy on the effects of information communication technology (ICT) on climate change, so the Pardee Center set up a forecasting framework to try to find some answers. Pardee Center Director Barry Hughes submitted a proposal in 2008 to the European Commission and the project began a year later.
Ideally, humans ought to stay below 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; what Moyer and his colleagues discovered, however, is that high ICT numbers alone won't do that.
"To actually reduce emissions, you need a carbon price at a safe level and high ICT," he said.
Moyer said the aim of pondering the state of the future is to "help policymakers make informed choices and for people on the ground to benefit from thoughtful analyses about the future. Quantifying things can be persuasive because it shows people how to spend money: What's the trade-off between policies?"
Government policy can impact broadband access, as information communication technology can produce structural change. In this case, the cost-benefit analysis examines the advantages of investing in rural broadband penetration, as well as in smart grids. Smart grids not only encourage consumption of electricity in an efficient manner, but also allow users to sell electricity back to the grid.
Although the findings were presented around the time of the Copenhagen climate talks, the forecasting data, which aims to limit the range of uncertainty in a variety of possible situations, had no impact on the international forum. It will however, assist policymaking for the European Union's 20-20-20 plan on climate action.
Moyer will return to the EU in March for a training session on the forecasting software.
Jonathan Moyer is currently working on his dissertation in the future of international conflict, which examines global trends in armed conflict. He is also the co-creator of the news aggregation Web site BuzzChurn.