Converting the earth’s precious metals into digital data

Digital bit

Dr. Melvin Vopson of the University of Portsmouth has painted an interesting if not bleak picture of the long-term future of the planet. Digital information is broken down into bits, the smallest unit of data. He says that the number of bits of digital data would equal the number of atoms on Earth by about 2170. He says this is basically converting precious metals, minerals et cetera into digital data. It’s as if scientists are transforming the physical Earth into virtual information which you can’t touch but see on a screen.

Digital bit

Digital bit. Image in public domain.

The scientist argues that there is a limit on the number of bits and that the massive energy needed to produce this information would soon overwhelm the planet. He argues that in about 130 years the amount of power needed to sustain digital information creation would equal the entire amount of power produced on the planet. And by 2245, half the Earth’s mass will be converted to digital information.

Ninety percent of the world’s data currently present has been created in the last ten years. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the growth of digital data. It has accelerated the concept of working from home which supports digital data use. According to Google, their global data center operation electrical power ranges between 500 and 681 megawatts. This is the same as produced by a standard coal power plant. Google needs its own power station to run its servers.

Why is this relevant to the relationship between humans and animals? Well, we have to dig up precious metals and minerals. This creates a lot of mining. In order to mine the Earth we have to clear forests. In clearing forests we destroy the habitat of wild species who have lived there for millions of years. Humans are destroying the homes of billions of animals and those homes have been in existence for millions of years. And the pace of this destruction is accelerating.