Greenpeace and the cloud #mdfp


Image from Greenpeace

31 March 2010  Greenpeace criticises coal-fuelled internet cloud on the day the iPad goes live and the web is awash with articles following yesterdays views based on the Greenpeace report that the 'cloud' of data which is becoming the heart of the internet is creating an all-too-real cloud of pollution as Facebook, Apple and others build data centers powered by coal. “If considered as a country, global telecommunications and data centres behind cloud computing would have ranked fifth in the world for energy use in 2007, behind the United States, China, Russia and Japan” Greenpeace have said.

"The last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power," said Greenpeace, which argues that web companies should be more careful about where they build and should lobby more in Washington for clean energy.  

Most Web companies are trying, if it is hard enough I don’t know, however I have a different take.

We have become a society that wants on demand, instant, immediate and therefore we need to keep all the servers (data centres) powered up and disks spinning.  In reality, as I have written before this is powering the “dark screens”, the one that you are not yet viewing, if you are reading this then it is lit.

A solution surly is to put most data on dark disks – ones that are spun down, stopped and unpowered.  If you request info from one of these disks, you are asked to donate to a carbon fund or wait 5 minutes while it powers up. The choice of fuel is not the argument or solution (sorry Greenpeace), getting stuff switched off and powered down – even deleted, by using intelligence in the data centre and technology surly is!

The whole debate about efficiency, components, materials, shipping, packing, reuse and recycling is another problem.