OK — I got slammed a bit over my comments about egalitarianism and planners who want to put us into what they consider appropriate living conditions. Fair Enough. Let me put it another way.
The New York Times has a great piece today on how Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, Linkedin, and their ilk are destroying the planet. Read all about it here. Here’s the gist:
Companies like those listed, AND the US government and virtually any company of any size, have huge data centers spread around the globe. These centers not only require power to run tens of millions of servers that keep the internet alive, but also about 10 times as much power to air condition them. There are also back up generators that idle (and pollute) so they can kick in in a millisecond so my view of Facebook isn’t interrupted. The kicker, they use as much energy that would be generated by 30 nuclear power plants. Or guess how many gas/coal/oil fired generating plants. Hmmmmm.
The money quote:
“This is an industry dirty secret, and no one wants to be the first to say mea culpa,” said a senior industry executive who asked not to be identified to protect his company’s reputation. “If we were a manufacturing industry, we’d be out of business straightaway.”
Where are all the folks picketing and complaining and lobbying to get this huge user of electric power, and of course huge polluter, to toe the line. Where are the controls, where are the rules, where are the limits placed on just how and when they can run their data centers…. You know the answer to that. It just depends on who’s ox is being gored.
Considers Facebook, which has a jillion users. A large amount of that energy is going to be sure you can “friend” someone you never met nor plan to. There is no rational reason for Facebook, certainly no more than my driving my Belchfire 12 at 65 per on PCH with the wind in my hair on Saturday morning. You have fun on Facebook, I have fun on PCH. So — Here’s the deal — why not just do away with Facebook. It serves no real purpose. I’ll trade you one Facebook for one Belchfire 12.
Why do we need online movie and books. What the hell is wrong with libraries? We got by with them for the last 500 years. Galileo, Einstein, Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Marie Curie did pretty well without Google and Yahoo books. So we can drop that, too.
Of course there is email. What’s that all about? I can live perfectly well eating rice from a hand blown pottery jar. I can live perfectly well riding the bus or my bicycle. Life is moving too fast anyway. Why not drop all non business email. The post office would love us and think of the gigawatts we would be saving.
OK, that’s all a little over the top. So why not allow all the internet companies to lower their power requirements by telling each person when they could go on line. If we did an every other day rule, Yahoo could halve its power requirements and we could drop 15 nuclear power plants. So you go on line Monday, I”ll go Tuesday, and you’ll get my email on Wednesday. Still better than the USPS.
Absurd? Some environmentalist reads the NYT story and who knows. The Sierra Club will be at your door checking out your web browsing habits.
All this is to point out that our lives have become extremely complex and interconnected. We use cars, planes, buses, bicycles, our feet, and the like to live the way one lives in 2012. Its not only that we don’t want to go back to 1900, we can’t.
What is going to solve this problem. Some really smart people are going to invent computers that run cool so very little air conditioning will be necessary. Why? Because Google and Apple and Yahoo and etc will wake up one day and realize that they are paying billions for electricity and maybe they don’t need to do so. I’ll just bet that right now these companies or companies like them are researching how to run computers on less power.
The problem will be solved. And the market will do it.
Just let the market work. Keep your hands off my Belchfire 12 and I’ll keep my hands off Google. Deal?