Sunday, September 23, 2012

Power, Pollution, and the Internet

I recently read a New York Times article, which addressed the growing issue with U.S companies and total energy consumption. The booming industry with all-online companies are the ones who are running their companies on thousands of square feet of computers and servers. James Glanz discloses that “Google’s data centers consume nearly 300 million watts and Facebook’s about 60 million watts.” Worldwide the number is even scarier among digital warehouses which produce over 30 billion watts of electricity a year, “roughly the equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants.” Not only are these companies using billions of watts of electricity each year to support their companies, but the amount of this energy that goes to waste is staggering. Empirics from The Times show that data centers around the country can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull of the grid. The article explains this because companies “typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand.”
There is also a environmental cost brought by the wasteful usage of electricity by our nation’s most successful companies and enterprises. These companies break several environmental regulations due to their over-usage of diesel powered generators. Amazon in particular was cited with 24 violations, as resported by Virginia’s Department of Enviornmental Quality. The VDEQ slapped Amazon with a fine of $554,476 for “for installing and repeatedly running diesel generators without obtaining standard environmental permits required to operate in Virginia.”

I find it extremely troubling that these “paperless” and “green” companies who function solely on the Worldwide Web are the ones who are producing serious toxins due to the running of their computer generators. The worst of it, is that there is no solvency. Programs are brought up by companies for lower input of electricity, but they will ALWAYS need excessive amounts of electricity to run this footloose industry. After negotiations Amazon only had to pay $261,638 of the fine (New York Times) a mere parking ticket for this multi-billion consuming conglomerate. I hope these companies too can find a way to drastically reduce their carbon footprint. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on reducing environmental harms and what we can do to help even slightly. You would be surprised on how the slightest contributions can make a big difference. For further references to this article, I urge you to read it here

Cited: New York Times

1 comment:

  1. I think it is really interesting that even though a company doesnt use a lot of paper, it can still be detrimental to the environment. In school, I thought of the new ipads as environmentally friendly, because they reduce the amount of paper used in classrooms, it never occurred to me that the ipads are also hurting the environment because of the amount of energy they consume. It seems that whether we use paper ("old fashioned methods")or ipads, computers,and other modern devices, we are still harming the environment.