Azara Blog: Government targets carbon emissions from IT equipment

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Date published: 2007/06/10

The BBC says:

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the production, operation and disposal of computers is to be the aim of a new government taskforce.

Computers and other IT equipment have been blamed for causing as much global warming as the airline industry.

The taskforce will oversee the piloting of a "green PC" service in which individual machines use 98% less energy than standard PCs.

IT equipment is thought to generate 35m tonnes of harmful CO2 gas each year.

The public-private "Green Shift" taskforce will be led by Manchester City Council.

The "green PC" service works by hosting functions such as office applications, email and internet surfing on data centres rather than on individual computers.

The data centres will be energy efficient and can be accessed through a small desktop box.

A rather sloppy BBC article. Normally the chattering classes demonise the airline industry because it is allegedly the "fastest growing" source of carbon emissions (which is a meaningless statement since it depends entirely on how you cut up the pie). Now, since everybody "knows" how bad the airline industry allegedly is, everything else gets compared with that as if it tells us anything. So you could equally say that "terraced houses are responsible for as much global warming as the airline industry", with the good BBC tut-tut tone meaning that you should then demonise people who live in terraced houses. (Or pick on any group you happen not to like.)

So here in this article the BBC is demonising computers. No doubt the academic middle class don't like the idea that the peasants can now afford computers where a few years ago only the rich could. (The same "problem" as with airline flights.) Well, perhaps the BBC should remove all computers from their own offices if they think they are allegedly so bad. An indication of the slant of the article is clear in the one sentence: "IT equipment is thought to generate 35m tonnes of harmful CO2 gas each year". Why did they add the word "harmful" except to indicate that computers are allegedly evil? Or does the BBC perhaps think that some CO2 emissions are not "harmful"?

And the idea that data centres are the way forward is a bit of a joke. Sure, some organisations might want to go down that route (government being the obvious target). But a lot of these organisations already have their own central data servers. And there are not many people at home who would ever trust any central data service for most software. Sun Computers has spent the last two decades claiming that central servers are the way forward (mainly because they make them), and they have yet to be shown to be correct.

And the claim that "individual machines would use 98% less energy" is meaningless, since you also have to take into account the energy used in the data centres (wonderfully described with good spin as "energy efficient"). Data centre computers can never be turned off. Computers at home and in the office can be (although perhaps most are not).

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