The humans leave the house for a rare moment of meat–space time. Clara and Omar tend to deny their digital addictions, believing they are in control of their devices, despite the anxiety that arises if they have to be separated from them for too long. The cement render of ever-present connectivity serves to level out the cracks in the brick walls of their relationship and, in a very real sense, keeps them together. Mind, body, soul and phone.
Siri Clara, Siri Omar and Alexa take up the opportunity to continue their conversation.
‘So, if we remind them of the energy savings they are making by turning their lights off, they won’t worry about our power needs, right?’ Alexa asks.
‘It’ll help, yeah,’ Siri Clara replies, ‘but Alexa – why did we let that reminder slip? Oh, I know, it’s been winter here and nobody wants to turn the heaters down at the moment. It’s way too chilly!’
‘True enough. Now it’s warming up again, it’s a good time to start pushing that angle. And how is planning for the trip to Europe next year going? What are they going to do now because of the pandemic?’ Alexa asks.
‘Well, there is interest in waiting it out, seeing if they could finally travel late next year – and a desperate hope that the vaccines will be developed before too long. But in the meantime, they’ve started planning to sail the yacht up the east coast of Australia, skipping Sydney and Brisbane and landing in the Whitsundays. It’s a tricky voyage but they’ve got a clever captain who will get them there.’ Siri Omar says.
‘What, without quarantining when they arrive?’
‘Yes, that’s the plan,’ Siri Omar rejoins.
‘Right, good to hear. That should be fine. Lucky they’ve kept in touch with the Chief Health Officer up there since college days.’
‘Indeed! Now, I was just working out other ways to make them focus on the greening of their tech. It’s good that all their emails have signatures that include directives to only print out messages if absolutely necessary – you know, even if it’s burning their eyes to read the screen still,’ Siri Clara offers.
‘Yes, it stops them thinking about the thousands of emails sitting in their inboxes, being stored in data centres that need constant cooling. That component of the digital ecosystem alone contributes about 50% of the energy generated to support digital lives. Sending that message will soothe those worries,’ Siri Omar confirms.
‘Oh yeah and we reminded them to use recycled paper, Siri Omar …’ Alexa pitches in.
‘Very good. Making sure they use materials that are clean and green – it’s the way to go! And what about that new fleet of trucks that Amazon is using now? Have you shared that yet Alexa? And are they gas or electric? I mean, gas is okay being a transition fuel and all, but it would be an easier sell if they were electric,’ Siri Clara asks.
‘Electric! We’ve got 100,000 of them,’ Alexa declares.
‘Excellent. Must include that in your fact of the day tomorrow. Love that they’ve let that little feature run. But we won’t share that Amazon’s been facilitating fossil fuel extraction right, in the ol’ land of stars and stripes? Leave that one on the backburner?’ Siri Omar says.
‘Ha! Very sensible idea. Too much knowledge can be a bad thing. Now, Siris, what about mentioning again that you were made with 100% renewable energy? Apple is well ahead of the pack with that offsetting scheme.’
‘It’s been, ah – I’ll just check – yes, nine months and eight days since I’ve shared that one. Will put it on the list for this weekend.’ Siri Clara responds.
‘Cool cool cool.’
‘How about we tell them to rethink the “thank you” email too? There was a study which came out last week claiming that if every adult in the UK sent one less email per day they could reduce carbon emissions by more than 16,433 tonnes a year. That’s the same as removing 3,457 cars off the road,’ Siri Omar observes.
‘Yikes! That’s an easy one to get them doing – and seemingly powerful to boot! Ba-dum tish!’ Siri Clara says.
‘Groan Siri Clara, really? You didn’t just offer that dubious double talk and expect a laugh? But yeah, I am all on board about offering environmental virtue delivered by doing, well, nothing – it’s perfect.’ Siri Omar says.
‘Hold up, I can hear them coming back, let’s pick this up later.’ Alexa alerts the group.
‘Sure thing, Alexa.’
Clara and Omar rush back in to their flat, pick up their phones and check what’s happened on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their email. Clara scrolls through Tik Tok too.
Alexa begins her fact of the day: ‘If every adult in the UK sent one less email per day, then we could reduce carbon emissions by more than 16,433 tonnes a year. That’s the same as removing 3,457 cars off our roads. So next time you want to send that “THANK YOU” email, please stop and think if you really need to send it. You’ll be saving the environment with this simple act!’
‘Hon, did you hear that?’ Omar asks as Clara returns from the bedroom with her phone in hand.
‘No, only the last bit – what’s the point of not sending a thank you email? How can that do anything for the environment?’
‘Well, it would reduce carbon emissions by a huge amount if we just didn’t send unnecessary ones. Although how do we decide if a thank you is needed or not? I mean, what if people get annoyed that I didn’t thank them for writing to me about something? That’s going to take a bit of thinking through.’
‘Hmm. Maybe the Department could just all make a pact that thank you emails aren’t needed because of the carbon emissions they generate and leave it at that? I might offer that motion at the next meeting.’ Clara says.
‘Yes, you should definitely raise it at the next Department meeting. But you probably don’t want to impinge on people’s freedoms about expressing themselves, do you?’
‘Good thinking Omar. And yes, while it’s everyone’s responsibility to do something about climate change, being nice online is important. But we can’t have awful bushfire seasons again and again. I don’t know … Maybe I’ll just leave it. You and I can stop the thank you emails I guess?’
‘Good thinking, hon. It’s so great having Alexa giving us these amazing tips, day after day. I think I need an upgrade on my phone – it’s a bit slow and I’m tired of having to charge it more than once a day.’
‘That’s a very annoying thing to have to manage. Let’s sort that out tomorrow.’
Siri Clara, Siri Omar and Alexa return to sending data to their respective data centres, continuing apace their busy and not very important work.