Where is Green IT Going? World Oceans Day 2021
It is estimated that in a minute, Google searches generate 500 kg of CO2. This, calculated for one day, is an unbelievable number of 720 tons. At the same time, a hectare of forest in the best condition can absorb less than 100 kg of CO2.
“Data is the new oil of the 21st Century.”
The IT sector directly accounts for 1.8% to 2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions (this includes data centers, telecom networks, and user devices), according to a report published this month by Lancaster University and Small World Consulting.
It is said that data is the fuel of the 21st century, and, like any fuel, it leaves a mark. However, growing awareness of the actual carbon footprint of generating, processing, or storing data mobilizes IT companies to take this matter extremely seriously.
The IT sector is well aware that development should not harm the natural environment because it is a road to nowhere. And, in the end, both sides lose. Fortunately, technology companies worldwide are fighting hard not to contribute to the excessive use of natural resources or environmental degradation. Moreover, by investing in innovation, they try to reverse it. Otherwise, the data will only be another, non-ecological “fuel,” such as coal or oil.
IT and Carbon Footprint
Elon Musk’s sudden negative reaction to cryptocurrencies, which he had previously been considered a great enthusiast of, came as a surprise to the world. BitCoin’s value dropped drastically – by about 30% – as Musk raised the carbon footprint issue and the huge energy demand needed to mine cryptocurrencies. Tesla also blocked the ability to buy electric cars with Bitcoin.
It is worth being aware that in addition to mining cryptocurrencies, each of our operations in the digital world, such as sending inquiries, watching movies, using applications, etc., causes the emission of a certain amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. In a recently published report, the French think tank The Shift Project calculated that streaming emits as much as 300 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually – it is one percent of all emissions.
Why is it like that? To handle each query, you need computing power, working servers, electricity, and of course, a cooling system. This is indicated in the first place by the giants of the IT world. Because although we do not see these processes directly, they constitute an important point of reference on the path of technological development.
At the Bottom of the Ocean
Devices such as servers need constant cooling to function properly. It is air conditioning that consumes the lion’s share of electricity consumed by IT. “In our corner of the world, global warming will first mean simply a greater electricity demand, while the power that coal-fired power plants in Poland can generate is already insufficient,” – warns Michał Jarski, cybersecurity expert from Wheel Systems.
IT is, however, one of the few industries that take ecology very seriously. Their goal is to achieve a balance in the area of development. This can be understood as satisfying companies and users worldwide (which is already quite a challenge) and doing it in the least harmful way to the planet.
Therefore, we see huge efforts and improbable investments by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to, for example, get as much energy as possible to power their data centers from renewable sources. In addition, they provide technologically advanced solutions and systems that allow you to monitor and study changes in the environment. Of course, not only caused by technological development but also by many other industries and expansive human activity.
Ocean of Data – Literally and Figuratively.
Two years ago, Microsoft sank a huge server room off the coast of the Orkney Islands. The server room with 855 devices on board was powered only by renewable energy, proved to be much more resistant to failures, and the problem of cooling disappeared. Has IT just found the Promised Land at the bottom of the ocean? Such experiments confirm the will to change towards greener IT.
Technologically supported by Storware – Oceania, a research vessel of the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research on changing the marine environment. Oceania’s mission is to study the marine environment. It’s not just about plankton and sea currents. The question is whether climate or industrial changes impact the sustainable use of marine fauna and flora. Of course, without technology, such research would not be possible.
These are the “green” benefits of our actions for corporate social responsibility (CSR). On this occasion, it is worth mentioning one more technology close to Storware, which has significantly contributed to reducing the carbon footprint in the environment.
Virtualization is Still Green.
The age-old idea of ”green IT,” designing IT services so that they are as environmentally friendly as possible, is also experiencing its second youth. One of the possibilities of reducing energy demand is virtualization. In this way, different applications or systems can run on one server.
There is a simple principle at the heart of virtualization: increase performance and reduce the number of servers. Virtualization has helped bridge the discrepancy between CPU, memory capacity, and efficient use. That’s why virtualization served as a catalyst that helped larger customers limit server growth. Expansion of the data center has been softened, fewer servers have been deployed, and utilization rates have started to rise to more acceptable levels.
Server virtualization has positively impacted the industry by enabling customers to reduce server purchase costs and life cycle costs, reduce data center space requirements, and, most importantly, reduce energy consumption, cooling, and management requirements. Virtualization software has had a huge impact in reducing the number of servers needed in the market.
As the examples above show, reducing energy consumption has a positive effect on our environment. By reducing the number of physical servers used, you reduce the amount of energy used. This has two environmental benefits: you reduce your company’s expenses and reduce your carbon footprint.