How Green Is Your Internet?
Shortages of fossil fuels, rising costs of oil and electricity and the increasing threat of global warming has brought a great deal of additional focus on the importance of green computing. Minimising the computer-based carbon footprint is significantly important, not just for the environment, but for saving money, too. This article will examine how green our Internet is, while explaining the importance of green living and making sure the Internet is environmentally-friendly.
What is the Internet?
The Internet is, essentially, a gigantic network that sprawls across the world connecting a vast number of computers together. The power consumption of these computers varies from place to place. Small home computers and laptops use little power, whereas more powerful professional computer and server equipment consumes significantly higher amounts of electricity.
Outside of the home and the business place, massive data centres containing computers that are filled to the brim with information which provides the storage for websites, files and other types of data for access to Internet-enabled computers. These data centres have been reported to use as much as 30 times more electricity than an equivalent sized office space.
Additionally, the data pipes that transmit information from one computer to another through the Internet all use electricity to run, with the pipes that run under the oceans connecting one continent to another consuming the most.
For a green Internet to develop, all these steps need to be optimised to be as energy efficient as possible. At the moment, considerable amounts of electricity is being used and wasted every day by inefficient hardware and poor electricity management, but steps are currently being taken to fix this.
Over the past few years, a number of technological innovations have led to changes in the type of hardware being used in every step of this process. As manufacturing processes have improved, computer hardware has miniaturised, allowing for more power efficient hardware to be produced. Energy-efficiency programs like ‘Energy Star’ also provide green facts about power usage to consumers allowing them to make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing computer hardware.
A lot of computer hardware is also getting close to the point of being “good enough”, with users opting to purchase and use hardware that focuses on power efficiency over brute force power this hardware is powerful enough to meet their needs.
Software Assisted Efficiency
Newer versions of operating systems like Windows and Apple’s OS X also contain newer power usage profiles that help to reduce the amount of electricity being used by a computer.
Theses changes have led to a reduction in the amount of energy being consumed overall by computers in the home and the business place.
Miniaturisation of Devices
A global shift is also being made towards mobile computing with smart phones and tablets replacing the more traditional desktops and laptops. These devices are powered by special low-power chips that consume significantly less energy than their more powerful computer brethren. An iPad tablet, for example, can consume as little as 10% of the power of a desktop PC.
Greening Business for Economic and Environmental Gains
Data centres, hosting companies and pipeline hubs are also adopting new energy efficient measures, both to help the environment and to lower operational costs. These centres often consume as much as 30-times more electricity than a normal office, which had made them important areas to focus on to improve energy efficiency. As in the home and the business world, new energy efficient hardware is starting to increase in popularity, as are alternative uses of power like solar and wind energy. Many website hosting providers are now providing green facts indicating how much power their data centres use, allowing Internet users to use ethical hosting services to ensure that they have a green website.
Changes have also been made recently to the way that the components used in manufacturing computer hardware are produced, with an increased focus on energy efficiency when materials are mined. Steps are also being taken to dispose of excess waste and toxic chemicals in an ethical manner to reduce the amount of damage being done to the environment.
Green living is important. Fighting back global warming and preserving the environment is of utmost importance, not just for ourselves but for future generations, and it’s something that the computer industry has taken note of. Energy efficiency is being improved across the board and an increased focus has been placed on making sure the Internet, and the processes it runs on, are as green as possible. This bodes well for the future.
However, for a green Internet to work, changes will need to be made everywhere. Make sure to do your part. Switch off your computer when it is not in use, use aggressive power usage profiles to reduce power usage, use power efficient hardware whenever possible and make sure you have a green website by using energy efficient web-hosting – it all helps.