It Takes Brains to be Energy Efficient


 It Takes Brains to be Energy Efficient

Since its launch last month, Australia’s Little Green Genie has won customers in 39 countries and has started a computer reseller program, which allows computer manufacturers, resellers and recyclers to sell carbon neutral equipment. And a study published in Science Journal reveals that our brains have the amazing ability to be energy efficient.


The creators of software that automatically purchases carbon credits to offset a computer’s emissions have extended a challenge to businesses to play a major part in cutting carbon emissions worldwide.

The Zero Carbon Computing Challenge (ZCCC), launched by the creators of the Little Green Genie, are encouraging businesses to spread the word about zero emissions computing in a bid to try and lower a portion of global carbon emissions.

Entrants in the ZCCC offset the emissions created through the manufacture and use of their computers, making them a zero carbon computer user. They then promote their own online competition page to their network that then take up the challenge to do the same.

Every company (and person) who offsets through an entrant’s page is then added to their carbon total allowing them to compete with others from around the world.

Australian politicians have already come out in support of the challenge including Queensland Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones and Federal Shadow Minister for Climate Change Greg Hunt.

Ms Jones says the Queensland Government supports businesses that are making sustainable choices, because reducing our carbon footprint is everyone’s responsibility.

“The Zero Carbon Computer Challenge is a great way for companies to compete against each other for the title of ‘greenest’ computer user within their network,” Ms Jones says.

Spokesperson for Little Green Genie James Skinner says the challenge is a great way for industry sectors, companies and individuals to compete against each other to vie for the title of the most green computer user within their network.

“With two typical Internet searches using the equivalent energy of boiling an electric kettle (according to a Harvard University study) the benefits eclipse the small financial annual outlay,” Mr Skinner says.

“Computers, which are now critical to personal and business communications worldwide, account for around five percent of the world’s total carbon emissions, which is about the same as the airline industry.

“We believe some healthy competition between individuals and organisations is a great way to get the message across, and already we have major companies such as Audi on board.”

Little Green Genie is part of a growing number of social entrepreneur businesses that recognise a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organise, create and manage a venture to make social change.

Enquiry about the program has already been received from over 78 countries including Bangladesh, Slovenia and Lebanon, with subscribers already on board from 39 countries, proving the broad international appeal of carbon offset initiatives.

As computers become more and more crucial to the running of our everyday lives, Mr Skinner sees the LGG as an excellent opportunity to keep the green message in front of people’s faces.

“We’re already seeing other by-products of the initiative such as users reporting that the program is causing them to look at improving their environmental behaviours in other parts of their life,” Mr Skinner says.

“The ZCCC will only further bolster the importance of the zero emissions message, whilst reinforcing the fact that we can all do something to help the planet.”

Source: and www.

Brain power goes green

Our brains, it turns out, are eco-friendly. A study published in Science and reviewed by F1000 Biology members Venkatesh Murthy and Jakob Sorensen reveals that our brains have the amazing ability to be energy efficient.

Brain cells generate and propagate nerve impulses, or action potentials, by controlling the flow of positive sodium and potassium ions in and out of the cells. Re-establishing the ion equilibrium after an action potential requires energy.

The amount of energy needed for action potentials was previously estimated using a giant nerve cell from squid. Now, researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany show that squid cell studies overestimated the amount of energy necessary to generate an action potential by almost a factor of four, suggesting human brains have the same potential to be energy efficient.

The researchers used a novel technique to record the voltage generated by nerve cells to “show that a rather subtle separation between the timing of sodium entry and potassium exit during action potentials can determine how much energy is expended to maintain the ionic gradients,” Murthy says.

Murthy goes on to say that “[these results] are important, not just for a basic understanding of brain metabolism, but also for interpreting signals detected by non-invasive brain imaging techniques.” Sorensen concludes that “the amazing thing is that we didn’t realize the result a long time ago!”


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