Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is the Internet killing the earth?

The New Scientist recently reported that the amount of energy it requires to run the servers that supply the backbone for the Internet and information technology is extremely high. Like 2% of global emissions, the same as the aviation industry. I think we all know about flying and how much emissions are created, but usually you don't hear about the emissions associated with information and communications technology.

It's rather amazing, but it makes sense. Researchers found that the worldwide power consumption by computer servers overall had doubled between 2000 and 2005. A number of industry giants such as Intel, Dell, Microsoft, IBM and Sun are participating in a collaboration known as the Green Grid, which aims to reduce inefficiencies in data centers and switch to greener energy sources such as solar and hydro as well as converting alternating current from the mains to one-time direct current to reduce the load.

Don't think you use a data center? Well, anytime you download video, send an email or buy something online using a credit card, these transactions go through a data center. Between YouTube, free email with unlimited storage and other daily Internet experiences you are adding to the huge draw of energy required to keep things running.

So, are we bloggers a part of the blame? Are we contributing to global warming and the energy expenditure that we fight tooth and nail to reduce? Or does the information that we share and the inspiration that we provide counterbalance the cost of this network?

What do you think?

11 comments:

Crazy Mumma said...

Nooooooo, tell me it isn't true?! Actually I did read this somewhere recently and it contributed to one of my New Years Resolutions, which is to spend *much* less time on the 'puter: I will therefore be spending more time with real-life friends/ hubby and the kids/ in the garden and/or a good book! A win-win all 'round.

DC said...

This is a complicated issue. On the one hand, Internet usage definitely consumes a huge amount of energy. On the other hand, I assume there are also some energy savings that have resulted from the Net that can't be easily measured. For example, it has allowed a number of people to work from home instead of commuting long distances to office buildings. Also, while Internet shopping requires large amounts of electricity to maintain servers, etc., ordering something online might use less energy than driving an hour to a mall to buy it. Now, if you're using the Internet to check out the latest Hummer you're hoping to purchase, well . . .

Irrespective of energy usage, I think turning the computer off and spending more time in nature and with people you love is a good thing.

Green Bean said...

I agree with the previous posters. Without the Internet, there would be no telecommuting, it would be harder to organize campaigns to fight global warming, and I, for one, would be generating more emissions because I wouldn't have learned all the reasons I need to cut them and found all the tips on how.

That said, I too think that, the Internet is not all good. Emissions aside it is as addictive as TV or video games. I'm committed to reducing my time online.

The Simple Family said...

I think about things similar to this a lot....how green is using a computer, how simple is using the Internet?

Do not know the answer....yet....

arduous said...

The other energy saving in my own life is paper. Because I blog online instead of keeping a journal. Because I IM with friends instead of sending letters. Because I often read things online (magazines, newspapers etc) that would otherwise be paper. There's also online bill pay that means less paper, and less transport of mail. So how much paper am I saving because of the internet?

And like green bean mentioned, if I hadn't ever read a green blog, I probably would never have started to change my life. I'm reading "Garbage Land" right now, and one of the things that fascinates me is how reusing and recycling used to be built into the fabric of society. Your milkman used to reuse a glass bottle for your milk. The rag and bone man would come take your chicken carcass away, and the parts would be used to make buttons and such.

Now, if you're trying to do your bit for the earth, you largely do it in a vacuum. That's ... not really possible. I think it's important to have a community, and that's why for me personally I think the internet has overall decreased my energy usage than not.

Village Green said...

What is important is that we all continue to grow more mindful of what we consume, how much we consune, and the effects our consumption has on the earth and all that grow and live upon it.

Susan Och said...

While I'm not one of those to jump on the "technology will save us" bandwagon, it seems to me that identifying and fixing inefficiencies in computer and server technologies is happening right now, and it will continue to happen as the price of electricity goes up. I worry about making the web more energy efficient by centralizing server capacity and in the process making it more centralized and easier to control.

But why blame bloggers? Why not single out spam? Or porn? Or spam blogs, or porn/spam blogs? And how much did our nation's electric bill spike when everyone plugged in their new Wii on Christmas morning?

Beany said...

There is also another aspect to consider such as the fact that I learned about composting and how I personally could save polar bears through various actions I could undertake all by reading articles/blogs online.

While I was never the typical Americcan consumer, I certainly was a bit wary of purchasing used clothing prior to becoming more educated thanks to the internets.

Vanessa said...

I do feel really guilty about my Internet usage... and while I made a point of cancelling my cable to not use the energy from the TV, I now watch movies online... stupid. The answer, though, lies less in getting people off computers and more in getting people to recycle their e-waste, switch to more energy-efficient and smaller computers, stop procrastinating and maybe use dimmer screens and things like Blackle instead of Google...

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I wish I could simply get on and get off a few times a day instead of being sucked into the never-ending fascination of the web. My email inbox is simply overwhelming at times because I subscribe to so many newsletters and blogs. I tell myself it's all research for my own blog, which it is, but there must be a more balanced approach I could take.

jewishfarmer said...

I think one thing we can do is honestly ask whether our time online is going to produce net gain. I know that often, I think my blogging does help other people reduce their energy usage, and I many others who do the same. But I'll also admit to umm...not always using the web in the most efficient way. Not everything I write or send or do is optimal, and it probably never will be, but we can still do what we can to ask ourselves "ok, is this really improving our lives and helping us burn less carbon, or are we kidding ourselves." I'm embarassed to admit how often I've been kidding myself ;-).

Sharon

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