They are coming for your Internet! They are coming for your Capitalism!
The NYT article attacks the Internet based on data centers' power usage. They use a lot of energy and right now energy usage is framed as bad for the environment. To try to add punch to the story a straw man is set up:
A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.Environmental friendliness? I have never heard that about computers! I have read stories of how toxic it is to make computers. How low wages are paid to workers in China to build them and the factories spew out pollution. Throwing away a computer is awful for the environment because of the materials that comprise it, not to mention the Lithium batteries they house.
Environmental friendliness? Don't make me laugh!
Do a search for "internet environment friendly" and see what you get. Articles and posts about the effect of the Internet on the environment. Scads of companies claiming to have green hosting by being more responsible or being solar powered. Articles about how to make your use of the Internet more environmentally friendly. Years before this article people have been working on solving the environmentally unfriendliness of the web.
The article claims that 90% of the energy consumed by data centers is wasted. That is hard to believe that a company that wants to make money would throw it away. However, this is potentially possible if the energy bill is relatively low in comparison to other operating costs. That is something that the article does not cover. What are the energy costs compared to other operating costs?
The article just laments how much energy is wasted. How idle data in old emails or business archives is still powered but not accessed or used. How the energy is wasted. The companies are more concerned with having up time on the servers than energy efficiency. It is so easy to make energy consumption look bad when its cost is not compared or given any relevance to any other operating costs.
The article is puffed up with paragraph after paragraph restating the same problem over and over in different ways. However, the most amusing part of the article is when talking about the diesel generators that the data centers will have as power backup.
To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters.An example used to illustrate the evil of the energy usage was Amazon. In 2010 they were to be fined $554,476 for the use of diesel generators without a permit. It was bargained down to $261,638. Since then Amazon now has the proper permits.
Did you catch that? Running polluting diesel generators without a permit is awful. Pay the government to get a permit to run diesel generators then everything is honky dory. Did the generators magically become clean because of the permit?
The story tells of research that has been done to make energy usage more efficient but it has not been adopted in general. Some companies are working on the problem though.
No one knows what innovations will be next. This problem, if it is a problem, could be resolved a year from now with a brilliant invention.
What is really needed is a sane energy policy. This story is just a ploy to get people to stop using energy. We instead need a policy to make energy more abundant. Stop shutting down coal plants. Let the KeyStone pipeline go through. We can try wind and solar but only as a supplement, not the solution. We need everything, not the shutting down of sources because they are not culturally popular. Other countries aren't which puts us at a disadvantage.
Heed my warning. This attack on the Internet through energy usage is just another prong in the attack of capitalism! Push back!