Sustainable Web Design: Book thoughts

I’m reading Tom Greenwood‘s book Sustainable Web Design and, interestingly, my main takeaways aren’t technical web design/development things. They are around:

  • Business/strategy – how there may (or may not) be benefit in positioning yourself as a sustainable web designer/developer.
  • UX – there are some nuggets around user journeys that I’d not considered before. Reducing page loads is good!
  • Spaceflight (!) – as an aviation geek and wannabe engineer I’m fascinated by space flight tech, and there’s some interesting stuff about the emissions from SpaceX’s Starlink satellite launches.

I’ve often wondered about carbon emissions of spaceflight and satellite deployment, but apparently a SpaceX Starlink launch is “roughly equivalent to 5 full passenger planes journeying from London to Sydney” and “a fraction of what it would take to build physical infrastructure”.

This stat is from The Smithsonian via Wholegrain’s newsletter and it looks like it’s actually ONLY the fuel burning cost, so includes none of the embodied energy in the vehicle (energy used to make the rocket and fuel).

I have to wonder how much energy is needed to make liquid oxygen and create and move around these colossal metal structures.

(Aside: I have so many questions about the use of super-cold liquid fuels in rockets!)

The other thing from the book that terrified me is the thought that so much of the UK’s internet backbone is in Docklands and could be flooded. If we lost a good proportion of our internet backbone I dread to think what would happen. Supply chains would collapse. My work would disappear overnight. Etc, etc. I’m sure there are backups and backups of backups for critical stuff like this but even so. Plus, the flooding map of London… ARGH!

I close with this quote from the book’s conclusion:

“There is no downside to a sustainable web, and creating it isn’t fundamentally difficult. In fact, it’s one of the most tangible and achievable steps in the zero-carbon revolution we’re embarking on.”

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