The two major reasons why flat screen displays gained mainstream acceptance was their sleek form factor, allowing more efficient usage of space and their environmentally friendly material usage. The cathode ray tube based displays used at least a pound of lead and other questionable materials and introduction of lead free displays was a welcome measure.
However, the same logic could be applied to desktop computers. Desktops are bulky and they use three to six times as much material as laptops.
Sales of desktop systems are particularly dominated by large global corporations such as Dell, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, and Asus. These corporations have a sizable market share in both desktop and laptop market. However, the computer market globally is moving towards laptops and this makes a collective rapid phase out of desktops a striking possibility.
In 2010, almost 375 million computers were sold with more than 55% of them being laptops. Early and rapid phase out of desktops and their replacement with laptops or tablets will save billions of pounds of plastic, metals, glass, energy costs, and carbon emissions while allowing people to utilize their office and home space more efficiently.
On an average laptops weight between three to eight pounds, whereas desktops including display, tower, and keyboard can weigh anywhere between 15 to 30 pounds. This is an enormous opportunity for making a difference in carbon emissions and saving the precious and finite resources of our planet.
Perhaps the most fascinating development is the introduction of tablet computers worldwide as the next evolutionary stage in computer design. Tablet computers typically weigh one to two pounds and are even more environmentally friendly compared to laptops.
Governmental and non-governmental organizations should create more public awareness on the enormous environmental costs associated with desktop computers and create policies which would encourage the migration from desktops to tablets or laptop to save the planet along with a one child policy for Asia and Africa.