How green is IT?

With technology around the globe generating more CO2 than passenger jets it is interesting on how our demand for faster and cheaper electronics will impact our goal to reduce global emissions. I also assume this fact doesn’t take into account the emissions in creating the product in the first place and the early disposal. Remember most planes will see service for 30-years or so and nearly all of it is recycled meaning it’s only true emission is the fuel.

New technology such as virtualisation will help as people reduce the number of servers they have by allowing more than one server run on a physical box. However people forget that this is only because servers are much more powerful and because of this consume a greater amount of energy to run and cool it. Datacentres alone contribute hugely to global electricity demands and with new datacentres going up across the world to cope with the expected demand in ‘software as a service’ I can’t see there being any quick fix.

It would be only a PR exercise to create a ‘green’ datacentre as the power requirements are such that current renewable sources would be unable to keep up. Nuclear in my mind is the only possible viable option if technology is not going to have a seriously negative impact. Also what about bringing in legislation that the car industry has to deal with? This could ensure that the life of a laptop, for example, is from the day of manufacture to the day of disposal and not how quickly it can open a spreadsheet. Apple have started I believe with their latest range of laptops, I do hope that the rest of the industry takes note.

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