19 May 2007

Taking Responsibility

Assuming that Global Warming is real - which I wonder about - and assuming that humans are causing it - which I doubt - I have a new, unlikely culprit. As far back as 1999, a study had reported that
it took a pound of coal to create, package, store, and move 2 MB of data. They also explained that while processors and other circuits were getting smaller and more efficient, demand for ever faster circuits (which are anything but efficient) was growing at a much higher clip. They figured five years ago that a PC required about 1,000 watts of power to operate (and this was using 1999's slower chips and smaller screens). At the time, the average home Internet user was online about 12 hours a week, which worked out to 624 kilowatt-hours a year. If you assume that Internet and PC use was up in the past five years, you're probably talking about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per PC. Back in 1999, consumers in the United States accounted for about 50 million PCs, with the remainder being business PCs. The ratio is probably not 1:4 consumer-to-business PCs, as it was in 1999, but is probably closer to 1:2. That ratio is important because business PCs run 40 or more hours a week instead of a dozen. That means that a business PC could be using as much as 2,000 kilowatt-hours to operate a year. If you extrapolate these ratios and power consumptions worldwide, that's 250 billion kilowatt-hours for home PCs and 1 trillion kilowatt-hours for business PC users. You heard that right: 1.25 trillion kilowatt-hours a year. That's how much energy goes into the PC, and in the summer months, that is how much energy must be removed from the office and home environment in warm climates. [Emphasis added.]
Another article discussing this same study reports that 8% of the US electricity usage. (Never mind that Salon is trying to debunk the study. Even if the 8% is over stated by a factor of two, that is almost 1/25th of all US electricity.) And if that is 8% of US usage, what percentage must it be in the emerging economies (India, China) where computer use is growing in the absence of electric garage door openers and mustache trimmers? A 2004 study from Duke states that
The Internet service infrastructure is a major energy consumer, and its energy demands are growing rapidly. One projection is that US data centers will consume 22 TWh of electricity in 2003 for servers, storage, switches, power conditioning, and cooling.
What, then, is the carbon footprint of the internet and all the pc's that have been purchased and plugged in simply because the internet was a must have? I do not know how to calculate it, but clearly the internet is a huge contributor to Global Warming! And who is responsible for
the Internet?
"I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, March 9, 1999

So now, at last, we know who is responsible for Global Warming!

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