Guillaume Pitron Meet the Author

3 May 2023

ANU/Canberra Times. Meet the Author. Guillaume Pitron

Guillaume Pitron, will be in conversation with Ebony Bennett on his new book The Dark Cloud. How the digital world is costing the earth, translated by Bianca Jacobsohn, a gripping new investigation into the underbelly of digital technology, which addresses the pressing question of the carbon footprint it leaves behind.

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.

The video of ‘Gangnam Style‘ was viewed around 1.7 billion times, using about 297 gigawatt hours, equivalent to that of a city with a population of 100,000.

One Google search uses as much electricity as a lightbulb left on for 35 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.

‘Guillaume Pitron recalls the origins of digital technology and explains how this new communication tool has catastrophic consequences on our environment’  Margherita Nasi. Le Monde

Guillaume Pitron is an 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. His first book, The Rare Metals War, has been translated into ten languages and won the 2018 economic book prize (2018). His work has garnered nearly 30 French and foreign awards, including the Erik-Izraelewicz Prize from newspaper Le Monde for an investigative report on the decline of the French forestry sector (2017). He holds a postgraduate degree (DEA) from the Universities of Paris, a master’s degree in international law from the University of Georgetown (Washington, DC) and is a TEDx speaker.

Ebony Bennett is deputy director of the Australia Institute and host of its Follow the Money podcast and popular webinar series, where she has interviewed former Presidents and former Prime Ministers, current and former politicians, academics, activists, artists and authors. Ebony is a regular commentator and contributor across broadcast and print media, she appears regularly as a commentator on ABC and Sky News and has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


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• Accessible parking spaces are available around campus should you require them.

• To help keep everyone safe, please ensure that you are familiar with, and follow, the advice from ACT Health regarding COVID-19.

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• A podcast will be made available after the event.

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