Server farms as polluting as air traffic

Posted by: Adam Aston on April 4, 2008

Air travel has become a sort of spectral symbol of the most indulgent sort of carbon-intensive lifestyle, so much so that some deep-green enviros have sworn off flights entirely. The science is, as in all things green, not exact but it’s believed that although a fully-packed plane is about as fuel efficient as a car trip, the plane’s emissions are released at high altitude and so do more far damage.

Keep that thought in mind as you read the next sentence: The world’s server farms are now polluting as much as all of air traffic, according to a report from SpiegelOnline. Unseen, unheard, but much relied on, the armies of power-sucking servers being built by Google, Microsoft and the like are multiplying faster than kudzu in August.

This thirst for energy also affects the climate. Economists with the US-based information technology research firm Gartner estimate that computer technology (including telephones, mobile wireless networks and printers) is now responsible for 2 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions — or, in other words, just as much as all air traffic does.

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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