** The problem:
* By 2040 emissions from computing alone will be close to half the emissions level acceptable to keep global warming below 2°C. This growth in computing emissions is unsustainable: it would make it virtually impossible to meet the emissions warming limit.
* The emissions from production of computing devices far exceed the emissions from operating them, so even if devices are more energy efficient producing more of them will make the emissions problem worse. Therefore we must extend the useful life of our computing devices.
** The solution:
As a society we need to start treating computational resources as finite and precious, to be utilised only when necessary, and as effectively as possible. We need frugal computing: achieving the same results for less energy.
** The vision: please read the article, I'm out of characters.
I have been reading sustainability reports of some hosting providers and mostly they talk only about efficiency (= less idling servers, newer servers, and less cooling)... but #sustainability contains also consistency (which servers do I buy, which energy do I consume, which buildings do I have) and sufficiency ("less is more"/use only when necessary)
Though, the reports I liked the most:
- https://www.hostsharing.net/ziele/digitale-nachhaltigkeit/ (it's German only; they explicitly say that they run their hardware as long as possible and if they buy new hardware, then based on sustainability aspects, too)
- ungleich.ch (I believe their message, but they are small...)
(maybe you have some other good examples)
But here again hosting providers are just the tip of the iceberg and relying on other resources like network, buildings, hardware vendors, cooling...
4 problems i see when replacing hardware too often:
1. the replaced hardware will still be used by some third party vendors. So, the overall consumption is growing and growing, which we see in the graphs in wim's article.
2. recycling of computer waste is still a big problem. There are many movies out there like "Sodom", going more into detail. Also we are missing Cradle to Cradle hardware. There is a lot to do to get to a circular economy here. Fairphone did a great job for mobile phones, but great part of the IT world is lacking a similar solution. HP is one of the better ones, but lobbying against right for repair...
3. production of computer hardware is highly complex, requires big fabs and is far from being sustainable, see @wim_v12e 's recent comment.
4. for power consumption we have at least a theoretical solution: wind/sun energy + hydrogen for UPS - but this definitely does not work if we build datacenters like crazy as described in wim's article.
@aligyie @dmbaturin @greenfediverse That's right, the current uptake of renewables is too slow to cover the projected rise in demand for computing. Even nuclear doesn't help, it takes too long to build the extra capacity. So the only current solution is not to use more power. And that will be the case for the next two decades at least, but most likely even longer.
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