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There is a very interesting discussion going on in the Diplo IGCBP10 India/Asia group,
that I would like to bring to the discussions on sustainable Internet as
well. What do you think about these issues?

The discussion started with two links to the "green" cost of a Google search and the
fuel source used to power the Internet. 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627546.700-search-engines-d...

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62T0MK20100330


I passed the group's comment on to my colleague, Ian Peter, who is not only an Internet Historian, but is part of Internet
History, and past co-coordinator of the Internet Governance Caucus. This
was his reply:

Various calculations have been made on the energy consumed by a Google search – my favourite is 3 seconds of the running time of an average family car. But none of these
are accurate of course.


But a better question is probably what sort of energy is being used, not how much – because not all energy use creates greenhouse gases. Google seems to be aware of
this and has developed a strategy to relocate all its server farms to
areas where renewable energy is available – be it hydro, wind,
geothermal, solar, or whatever.


A bigger problem we face is that not too many other people are looking at this yet – and in governments in particular large amounts of computing processing power
are being used for day to day business, and very little effort is being
made to relocate or consolidate data centres. Data centre consolidation
across government departments is a good first step. Another step is to
put all servers near renewable resources – so, for instance, Iceland
with its vast geothermal resources would be able to supply renewable
energy to power all of the data centres and server farms of every
government in Europe. (and the Internet would carry the traffic). Or if
that’s not politically acceptable, most countries would have some
renewable resources or would be starting to develop some.


While I’m at it, another huge thing governments could do is switch off every computer on every desk at night that is not being used (and that’s about
99.98 % of them). These are usually left on in case IT people want to
upgrade systems overnight – a reasonably rare event and there are other
ways to accomplish this anyway.


And its not just governments, its also large corporations. Depending on who you talk to, IT consumption of greenhouse gases is somewhere between 5% and 15% of
total emissions. The difference here is that there are some easy and
quick wins for IT compared with, say, the airline industry. Dramatic
reductions are possible, and in fact result in significant cost savings
as well. Someone suggested that the first step might be to make IT
managers responsible for electricity bills of their organisation – that
might result in some quick progress in this area!


Finally, a zero carbon emission Internet is possible. There are people working on this architecture.

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Replies to This Discussion

Great information thanks for sharing.

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