Friday, May 30, 2008

CeBit 2008: Greening of the IT Industry?

Ever since the Internet revolution helped spread the message of saving our environment, concerns were voiced over the rather large carbon footprint generated in keeping the net up and running. Is the time for a solution now neigh?

By: Vanessa Uy

Environmentalists around the world could trace the roots of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in the fledging Internet circa 1995. It is the only place where the scientific validity of the existence and threat of global warming survive, despite the attempts of the GOP lead US congress attempts to cast doubts on the existence of global warming. But the information campaign to reverse the threat of global warming threatens to devolve into hypocrisy when you consider the Internet infrastructure’s overall carbon footprint. Especially when it comes to energy needs.

There had been measures to reduce the Internet’s carbon footprint over the years, but none matching the variety provided by this year’s CeBit. From search engine providers use of photovoltaic power generating technologies and hydrogen fuel cells for large-scale power generation to power their mainframe servers. Also using water-cooled microprocessors to reduce the Internet’s carbon footprint down to the individual user level. Water-cooled microprocessors really seems a way forward when it comes to reducing a PC ‘s power consumption since –at present – 40% of a contemporary design PC ‘s energy needs is spent on cooling the microprocessor. And since water is a more efficient cooling medium compared to moving air, this could well be a very viable solution. This year’s CeBit offerings are indeed hell-bent on saving our environment.

Fortunately for us denizens of the net, it’s much easier to design and build carbon-neutral electric power plants to power the World Wide Web. As opposed to privately owned cars – which for the foreseeable future at least – seems to be addicted to petroleum. But the Internet’s electricity requirement’s carbon footprint is not the only threat to our environment posed by the rapidly evolving technological infrastructure of our information-based society. Pre loved PC ‘s can also threaten our planet by being a source of plastic and toxic metals pollution. And the environmental pressure group Greenpeace has been very vocal about this over the years. But this too has solutions, companies that manufactures PC ‘s has been providing environmentally friendly recycling schemes over the past few years. Like refurbishing old computers so that they can still be used in poorer neighborhoods, which is really good when you consider the alternative like obsolete computers leaking toxic chemicals to the groundwater supply. Considering what has been achieved so far, computers are looking to be one of the greenest mass-market items ever invented – with a little help of environmental awareness of course.