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The Dark Cloud How the Digital World is Costing the Earth

By: Guillaume Pitron(Author), Bianca Jacobsohn(Translated by)
290 pages, b/w illustrations
The Dark Cloud
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  • The Dark Cloud ISBN: 9781914484445 Hardback Sep 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
Price: £20.00
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Language: English

A gripping new investigation into the underbelly of digital technology, which reveals not only how costly the virtual world is, but how damaging it is to the environment.
- If digital technology were a country, it would be the third-highest consumer of electricity behind China and the United States.
- Every year, streaming technology generates as much greenhouse gas as Spain – close to 1 per cent of global emissions.
- One Google search uses as much electricity as a lightbulb left on for up to two minutes.

It turns out that the 'dematerialised' digital world, essential for communicating, working, and consuming, is much more tangible than we would like to believe. Today, it absorbs 10 per cent of the world's electricity and represents nearly 4 per cent of the planet's carbon dioxide emissions. We are struggling to understand these impacts, as they are obscured to us in the mirage of 'the cloud'.

The result of an investigation carried out over two years on four continents, The Dark Cloud reveals the anatomy of a technology that is virtual only in name. Under the guise of limiting the impact of humans on the planet, it is already asserting itself as one of the major environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.

Originally published in French in 2021 by Les Liens qui Libèrent as L'Enfer Numérique.

Customer Reviews


Guillaume Pitron, born in 1980, is a French award-winning journalist and documentary-maker for France's leading television channels. His work focuses on commodities and on the economic, political, and environmental issues associated with their use. The Rare Metals War, his first book, sold 80,000 copies in France and has been translated into ten languages. Guillaume Pitron holds a master's degree in international law from the University of Georgetown (Washington, DC), and is a TEDx speaker.

Bianca Jacobsohn is a South African and French translator and conference interpreter who specialises in energy, finance, strategic metals, and diplomacy.

By: Guillaume Pitron(Author), Bianca Jacobsohn(Translated by)
290 pages, b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Guillaume Pitron recalls the origins of digital technology and explains how this new communication tool has catastrophic consequences on our environment [...] What happens when you send an email? What is the geography of clicks? What ecological and geopolitical challenges do they bring without our knowledge? This is the subject of The Dark Cloud [...] For two years, the journalist followed, on four continents, the route of our emails, our likes, and our vacation photos."
–  Margherita Nasi, Le Monde

"It reveals the environmental cost of a dematerialised sector. Between the strategies of the giants who keep us in the illusion of a clean internet and the difficulty of feeling pollution that has no taste or smell, the investigator reveals the underside of the internet."
– Marina Fabre, Novethic

"An incredible investigation."
France Inter

"Absolutely fascinating."
– Ali Baddou, C l'hebdo, France 5

"A landmark book."
Le Figaro

"An illuminating study."
 – L'Obs

"A riveting investigation that, just like a thriller, sets out to open our eyes about the material impact as well as the economic and geopolitical issues of a totally wired world."

Sciences et Avenir

"A colossal work."

"In The Dark Cloud, Guillaume Pitron exposes the supposed immateriality of the internet as one of the more pernicious of tech bro delusions. [...] rather than saving us from the destructive tendencies of capitalism, the digital realm intensifies them, with the tech companies committed to exponential, unplanned growth irrespective of the environmental consequences [...] [The Dark Cloud] demonstrates convincingly that we can't flee from our messed-up analogue world into some digital alternative. Our problems are material – and they require material solutions."
– Jeff Sparrow, The Saturday Paper

"Today has two battlegrounds – carbon and silicon. In The Dark Cloud, journalist Guillaume Pitron explains the distinction between these two battlegrounds is a carefully crafted illusion. Our screens are not portals to an infinity beyond the material. Far from lacking a footprint, technology actually has an immense cost in resources, energy and environmental destruction [...] Pitron is a master of articulating the material cost of the "immaterial" [...] It's only through works such as The Dark Cloud [...] that laboriously map the immense, insatiable machine that we realise it's one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock, and we're all asleep. Well, here is your wake-up call."
– Jason Steger, The Sydney Morning Herald

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