Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest Post: The Fabulous Tracy Wolff

(I'm so glad to welcome back Tracy Wolff who is all kinds of awesome in my book!)

First, let me thank Amy for having me here. She’s such a lovely person, and has such a great following, that it is always a joy to blog here.

Now, while I normally blog about myself and whatever new book I have coming out at present, today I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to blog about my husband’s job—and some of the fascinating, and scary, things I’ve learned about the world and things I take for granted in it.

Now, my husband is an electrical engineer, trained in safety and control system and telecommunication engineering (what this means is for years he’s followed behind me unplugging the toaster and coffepot—‘leading cause of fires in homes, Tracy’ he tells me regularly). But now he’s with a new company and has a new title—that of Green Guru, or, in other words, the guy in charge of energy efficiency. I always laugh at that, because with the new title came a ton of travel—to environmental conferences, to speaking engagements, to important Green meetings all over the world. Of course, all his travel takes place on airplanes, much like Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, which leads me to tease him about his carbon footprint on a regular basis.

But as he sat down to write a paper for his latest conference (what this actually means is that WE sat down to write the paper) I learned something that absolutely horrified me. The carbon footprint he leaves with his air travel is nothing—nothing—compared to the one that he leaves, that we all leave, with our cell phones.

The Smart 2020 report, done by a really impressive tech group over a period of years, has recently released figures that say that by 2020 our cell phones and blackberries will cause more environmental pollution than all of the air traffic in the world (even accounting for the huge growth in air traffic in China in the next eleven years). That the damage using them will do to the environment is worse than all the burning of fossil fuels necessary to travel across continents and oceans. Holy cow!

Now I'm not a huge devotee to my cell phone-- more often than not I let it run down, lose it, forget it or generally ignore it. I rarely answer it when it rings and even more rarely remember to put it in my purse. But in my family—and among my friends—I am the oddity. My best friend lives on her Blackberry pearl. My son all but worships the cell phone we just got him for his birthday (before I read the scary study) and my husband, because of work—and his insane amount of travel-- is usually attached to his for all hours of the day and night.

Now, because I'm technologically challenged, I at first didn't understand how my little cell phone-- or, for that matter, all the cell phones in the world-- could surpass the damage caused by major jumbo jets. I mean, really, those things are huge and run on gas. Cell phones? Really?

Well, as my darling husband explained to me, cell phones cause huge environmental damage because, like cars and airplanes, they are one of the very few industries in the world that actually cause more harm after their manufacturing rather than during it (most products are, for the mos part, finished destroying the environment after they are created in factories). But because of the towers needed to connect cell phones, the energy needed to cool the equipment that makes national and global connections possible, the energy generated by the use of them, and a bunch of other stuff I didn't really understand (hey I'm a writer and a techno phobe) my spiffy little red Blackberry will end up causing untold devastation to the environment by the time I've lost it, washed it or run over it with my car (all things I've done to previous cell phones). And the more I use it, the more damage it does. I'll never look at my cute little phone in quite the same way . . .

Now, steps are being taken to combat this (part of my husband’s job is to help design more environmentally friendly, energy efficient telecom equipment) and a lot of important electronic and telecom bodies are at work developing standards for the equipment. But I still felt guilty when I used my cell phone this morning, and imagined that my carbon footprint was growing just a little more with each button I pressed.

So, how often do you use your cell phone? Are you addicted to it, or is it more of an afterthought? And does anyone have any other interesting environmental facts that might shock, horrify or impress me?

Tracy Wolff is a romance author and avid eBook reader, blogging this month for All Romance eBooks' Go Green/Read e Campaign. Find out more about the Go Green/Read e Campaign at To learn more about Tracy Wolff visit her website at You can find Tracy Wolff's ebooks and thousands of other eBooks on-line at**


bermudaonion said...

Wow! I hate reading that because I try to be "green." Since our son is away at college, I have my cell phone with me all the time and obviously use it far more than I should. This post will make me re-think some of the things I do.

chartroose said...

I always knew cell phones were evil! I don't use mine very much, but my daughters are on theirs practically 24/7. I'm going to let them know about this. Thanks!

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Hi Tracy,

Welcome to Amy's House. Your husband's job sounds interesting and thanks for updating on cell phones. I knew I didn't like them for some reason. We use our for emergency purposes only or when we travel. I couldn't stand being tied to a phone 24/7 - it would drive me crazy.

I see folks talking everywhere they go and I think. What's so important you can't save it till later, when no else has to listen to your conversation. But that's me.

I can't think of any other environmental horror stories. It was great having you visit.

Beth Kephart said...

This is frightening and so helpful. Boy, everywhere we turn we need to do so much better. Thank you.

Jenny Girl said...

I don't use my cell phone that much at all. I carry it around more for safety purposes than anything else. I have never been a phon person, so that's probably why.

Tracy Wolff said...

I know-- ever since my husband became Green Guru for his company, I'm rethinking so much of what we do. Things I've never thought about before suddenly top my list of Oh no! I've been destroying the Earth for years!

Thanks, Amy, for having me. I love coming here-- what a fabulous blog!

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