We were preparing a celebratory reading for the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin’s 250th birthday when a nark arose. There were tweets to twitter, bottles to buy, but one of us would be out of the country until the day before our event on March 20: the day in 1770 of Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin’s birth in Lauffen on the Neckar. “But where danger is, deliverance too will grow”, the culprit quipped, citing the German bard. “Deliverance” wouldn’t just arrive here, however, not without fewer hands carrying heavier burdens.
Stimulated by Hölderlin’s quasi-Hegelian proposition, the discussion wandered to more difficult dangers from which we might require deliverance, one of them invisibly staring us in the face now: the connectivity carbon footprint. I add that I am writing this in a place where there is no internet connection and from which, if I wished to check any facts and figures that follow, I would need to walk through a snow-storm to a nearby town that is lucky to have retained its public library amid nationwide cuts to this essential public service.
You, on the other hand, with access to the web, sitting, I hope, in a warm dry room, can easily and digitally check anything I say against information offered by a host of competing versions of the truth. In fact I beg you to do so, lest you think me guilty of wild contentions – always bearing in mind, of course, that about 17 searches use the energy required to boil up a cup of tea, and that at 3.45 billion Google searches per day (according to Google), quite a few kettles could be boiling.Print