Urban Fold

This News Link Has a Carbon Footprint

In response to a New York Times investigation in to the energy wastage of Internet companies and their vast, electricity-sucking data centers, Will Oremus argues that we all need to take a look at our own online carbon footprints.

The original New York Times article discovered that, worldwide, data centers consume about "30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants." Oremus says that this model simply isn't sustainable:

"The data centers that store and process everything from your old emails and Facebook data to tweets, Google searches, and e-commerce transactions suck up 2 percent of the nation's entire electricity supply. Worse, upwards of 90 percent of that energy is simply wasted...'the cloud' is not some magical ether, but rather a network of big, power-hungry, polluting, and often wasteful physical data warehouses that store a lot of stuff we need but also tons of stuff we don't need.

Do we really need Gmail encouraging us to archive all of our old emails rather than delete them? How many severs must be running at this very moment just to accommodate 5MB photo attachments from four years ago that we'll never again look at in our lives? How many of us recycle soda cans and turn off the lights when we leave a room but get outraged when we can't instantaneously load a website or access every bit of data we've ever stored online? Internet storage today is like a fleet of empty buses that stay running all night just in case millions of people suddenly decide they need a ride at 3 a.m. And instead of retiring buses when they grow too old to be of use, we keep them running too, just because. No way is this sustainable in the long term."

Full Story: Big Data's Dark Side: A Massive, Polluting Drain on the Nation's Power Supply


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