I came across this post on the Wired Campus blog, U. of Illinois Starts Construction of Sustainable Supercomputer Center, which is something cool to see. U of Illinois is working to make supercomputers that do not gobble up so much energy.
This makes me think about some of the issues in our Internet-charged world. We are a power hungry society when it comes to technology. We can only “reduce and reuse” with limited boundaries at this point. Computers have become more efficient, but we are increasingly moving our information off of our desktops and putting it out into the “cloud” of the Web in places like Facebook, Google Docs, Wikis, podcasts, online groups, and other external “places” on the Web. Well, many of these “places” are actually HUGE server farms that consume lots and lots of energy. Last year, Google opened up a new server farm on the Columbia River in Oregon so that is could use hydro-electric power at a cheap rate. (See “Google’s Addiction to Cheap Energy” and “Down on the Server Farm: The Real-World Implications of the Rise of the Internet“).
I’ll admit that I don’t want to give up my surfing habits, but, as a society, we need really consider the impact of the growing Internet monster and how sustainable these technologies are. Naturally, I recognize the irony of this topic when it is presented on a blog, but this demonstrates the difficulties ahead. I’ll make many sacrifices in the name of sustainability, but I have not yet sacrificed my technological addiction.