April 2 News: Powering The Internet, Efficient Videogames, And A Solar Plane Flight

I used the internet to write this post. You’re using the internet to read it. Scientific American reports that because this requires a lot of energy, and creates a lot of heat, there are efforts to make data centers more efficient. [Scientific American]

The Internet may not consume nearly as much environmentally unfriendly fossil fuel as airplanes or automobiles, but the growth of cloud-based services offered by Apple, Netflix and others is forcing data centers to provide greater speed and more storage capacity. All of this size and speed comes at a price. Data centers generate a lot of heat that has to be whisked away by power-hungry air and liquid-cooling systems to keep the Internet’s engines from burning themselves out.

Efforts to combat this growing power consumption have been lukewarm, points out Diego Reforgiato Recupero, a computer scientist and electrical engineer at Italy’s University of Catania. In the March 29 issue of the journal Science, he shows that Internet traffic volume doubles every three years, yet this increase in usage has not been matched by a similar increase in network energy efficiency. Citing data on projected energy use increases for telecoms and Internet service providers, Recupero says the world’s data centers will consume 19 percent more energy in 2013 than they did a year ago. …

To avoid becoming energy hogs and concomitantly adding more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, these data centers need to smarten up, literally, using new approaches. Recupero points out two hardware management technologies in particular. One is “smart standby,” which places unused portions of computer server and networking equipment into very low power states. Another — dynamic frequency scaling — allows computer central processing unit usage to be throttled back on the fly when data traffic on a network is light. Both technologies should cut the amount of data-center heat that must be whisked away by high-power cooling systems.

Wouldn’t it be great to use the waste heat of the internet for co-generation?

The province of Ontario is expected to be the first industrial region in North America to shut all its coal-fired electric power plants by the end of next year. [Yale Environment 360]


According to a new Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans believe the government is too lax when it comes to protecting the environment. [The Hill]

Draft curriculum guidelines for UK schoolchildren that eliminate mentions of climate change and sustainable development are getting some pushback from teachers. [Guardian]

By 2015, California is expected to require video game consoles to meet minimum efficiency requirements. [LA Times]

The toll of air pollution in China has been the equivalent of 25 million healthy years from the population, and linked to 1.2 million deaths. [New York Times]

Pregnant women exposed to increased levels of traffic smog faced a higher risk of birth defects. [HealthDay News]

The White House was cagey when asked about the (Keystone) policy and regulatory ramifications of the ExxonMobil pipleline spill in Arkansas. [Washington Post]


President Obama will see what is expected to be a large crowd protesting an approval of the Keystone pipeline organized by CREDO Action outside his San Francisco fundraiser. [CREDO]

Count Senator David Vitter (R-La.) as one who thinks the White House will wants to price carbon dioxide emissions. [The Hill]

A new prototype of a solar plane — powered only by the sun and batteries — is planning a trip across the United States this spring. [Times of India]

The electric Nissan Leaf is expected to break its monthly sales record. [CleanTechnica]