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Published on April 9th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


Greenpeace Says: Make I.T. Greener

Geeks, I know you’re excited about the iPad changing the game, but Greenpeace thinks it’s time we had a talk about how cloud computing and “quintessential cloud computing devices like the iPad” could be changing the climate. Greenpeace recently released a report called “Make IT Green: Cloud Computing” that zeros in on the growing technological carbon footprint.

Image Credit: GreenpeaceGreenpeace recently released a report questioning the green credentials of cloud computing

Greenpeace recently released a report questioning the green credentials of cloud computing

The report introduction reads:

“Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change” shows how the launch of quintessential cloud computing devices like the Apple iPad, which offer users access to the “cloud” of online services like social networks and video streaming, can contribute to a much larger carbon footprint of the Information Technology (IT) sector than previously estimated.”

The overall message is that increasing use of technology means increasing energy demands- and shouldn’t that energy be from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels? Dig in a little further and you read that they also predict that use of mobile phones and “cloud computing devices like the Apple iPad” will double by 2020, PC ownership will quadruple, and global server farm/ data center emissions will more than double to 257 MtCO2e (Metric Tonnes Carbon Dioxide Equivalent).

So does Greenpeace’s report itself a game-changer, revealing the hidden toll cloud computing technology emissions? Is the urbanite who bikes to work and spends all day using cloud computing the same as the suburbanite who drives a one hour commute to teach at a school?

Not necessarily- as Nick Mokey points out on Digital Trends, the “combined emission from all information and communication technologies (ICT) only accounted for two percent of global CO2 emissions.” Not to mention that automobiles create far more emissions (let alone the airline industry or factories).

What this report does remind us, however, that more Silicon Valley companies should follow the lead of Google and eBay in utilizing Bloom Energy servers. As Greenpeace quotes Michael Dell in their report: “I have always believed that IT is the engine of an efficient economy; it also can drive a greener one.”

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