Save the planet

overheated planet

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So you really want to do something to help slow global warming?

Well, here’s something easy: Ditch your social media and your internet-connected toys and appliances. All of it and all of them.

Sign off and check out.

Stop Tweeting stupid shit, which is much of what is on Twitter. Abandon the need to show the world those Instgram photos barely of interest to your family. Save the video you were going to put on YouTube and show it at a party with friends who you know will look at it or at least pretend to do so.

Disengage from the internet war games.

Pull the plug on Alexa, and shut up on Facebook because all you’re doing is encouraging businesses to suck energy out of the ground and turn it into gas – carbon dioxide to be specific – in order to power your personal need to speak to the world that isn’t listening anyway.

Mainly all the world is getting is your gas.

“The internet is the largest coal-fired machine on the entire planet,” writes Kevin Lozano in The New Republic.

OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole. No one has conducted an energy audit to determine exactly wherefrom comes the electrical juice that keeps the internet alive. Lozano claims that the web accounts “for 10 percent of global electricity demand.”

Where he got that number is unclear. The guesstimates of the juice demanded by the internet vary, and most of the energy doesn’t come from coal. The World Bank today estimates coal produces just a bit more than 39 percent of global electricity.

But there is little doubt that the internet sucks up a considerable volume of electricity, and the amount is growing by the day with evermore social media and the mushrooming number of internet-connected appliances.

“From TVs to speakers, kettles to heating systems, more and more of the devices we use every day are now ‘smart.’ This means they connect to the internet, can be controlled using a smartphone and talk to each other, giving you more control over how you use them and saving time and money,”, a technology website.

Every new ‘smart’ device sucks more juice, and some folks have been wondering for a long time what that will mean for future energy demand.

How much?

“For over a decade, researchers within industrial ecology, engineering and computing have debated and tried to estimate the net balance of additions and savings to carbon emissions and energy consumption as digital technologies, including infrastructures, become more widespread,” Lancaster University researchers from the United Kingdom reported in the journal Energy Research & Social Science last year.

“Even for the most straightforward effect, direct consumption, there has been considerable variance in results, with different methods yielding very different estimates of how much energy the Internet uses, and what the consumption attributable to a MB of data traffic might be. Nevertheless, these studies all highlight growing levels of energy used by information and communication infrastructures, both in absolute terms and as a share of overall global electricity use.”

The paper concluded that though it is hard to tell how big a slice of electric consumption is now devoured by digital devices, the number of such devices on the market appears to be increasing exponentially:

“In a worst-case scenario, this could reach as high as 50 percent of global electricity use by 2030, but only 8 percent in the best case. The International Energy Agency, who estimate that networks consume slightly than data centers, foresee only moderate growth in the energy consumption of data centers of 3 percent by 2020. But they estimate greater uncertainty for networks, with scenarios varying between growth of 70 percent or a decline of 15 percent by 2021 depending on trends in energy efficiency.”

The Lancaster researchers were skeptical of any gains to be made through efficiency given the behavior of markets.

“Firstly, mobile networks are more electricity intensive than fixed-line access networks yet mobile data traffic is growing faster,” they wrote. “Secondly, video traffic is associated with the growth in fixed and mobile network traffic, yet watching video across mobile networks is especially energy-intensive. Thirdly, data traffic in the ‘busy hour’ is growing at a much higher rate than average; leading to increased consumption at particular times of day as well as the expansion of networks (and associated overhead consumption) since ‘service providers plan network capacity according to peak rates rather than average rates.’

“…It appears that growth in data traffic continues to outweigh efficiency gains. We therefore take it as a working assumption that increased data flows over mobile and Internet networks represent an increase in energy consumption.”

In other words, we have met the enemy and she is us.

Turn it off, turn it off

Which brings this back to Lozano and his apocalyptic vision of the climate-change future:

“As the world gets hotter, as the forests burn and cities flood, our devices will start to fail, too. In data centers around the world, where the vast majority of the internet is stored, cooling and energy costs will rise exponentially. The electromagnetic frequency that Wi-Fi travels along will be disrupted, mangled by the increased intensity of ultraviolet rays from the sun. In the next 15 years, the coastal tubes and wires (4,067 miles of fiber conduit, to be exact) that transmit Americans’ data will drown under saltwater. The materials that prop up the web, such as rare earth minerals, will become harder and harder to come by.

“How do we even begin to confront this array of systemic issues? A good place to start is by creating a more ecologically friendly web, along the lines of (Kris) de Decker’s (solar-powered web)site and other projects now being prototyped by engineers within the nascent community of sustainable web design. They agree on a few core tenets: Advertising is bad, the growth of video streaming must slow, web pages are too bloated, and corporate surveillance has to end.”

Most of those tenets, unfortunately, run counter to what consumers want. Given that, Lozano argues “regulation” might be necessary, and he hopefully envisions that leading to more innovation.

“…It’s also in these (regulated) places where you’ll see innovation steering the net’s infrastructure away from the corporate quest for profit. Xiaowei Wang is already seeing this happen in rural China. ‘China has a huge amount of state control over the internet and these very tight restrictions on who even gets to put up a website,’ she says. ‘Rural China is good at subverting that, creating a subculture that is very anti-government. And they’re doing it over live streaming platforms in China.’ Her optimistic reading is that places like rural China offer an example of ‘indigenous innovation and a more free, more decentralized internet.’

“This internet might be slower, but it would also be more community-oriented and heterogeneous,” Lozano says.

Right. And rural China is so well known as a bastion of freedom.

If everyone just chipped in….

Wouldn’t it be better to avoid going down the Chinese pathway?

How hard can it be to limit our internet use? Do you really need Alexa to turn on the lights and turn off the TV? Or a home security camera constantly streaming to your smart phone? Or a thermostat you can adjust from the beach while on vacation in Hawaii?

Can’t you live without mock World War III battles with someone in the next state, country or continent over?

Do you think the world needs more banal internet Tweets, or in the case of some former journalists, your endless anti-Trump memes and quotes? Do you think anyone on your Twitter feed really cares after you repeat the same message in a different way for the umpteenth time?

Can’t you at least give that up to do the smallest, little thing to help out the planet?

Everyone in American knows how they feel about Trump, and everyone on your feed long ago figured out how you feel. You’re not changing any minds, or enlightening anyone to the president’s bad behaviors.

All your doing is shouting “look at me” as if you can’t live without attention. It’s not a good look for the profession to which you devoted your life.

Journalism, at its best, is about encouraging people to think, then debate, discuss, and contemplate public affairs. You’re not furthering any of that. You’re just burning up electrons.

It’s the old “dead trees” issue all over again, but now instead of just newspapers helping decimate the globe’s forests, you’re part of a mob helping cook the planet with profligate prattle. As a believer in the nightmare scenario of climate change, don’t you feel just a titch of responsibility to do the tiniest, easiest thing to help reduce carbon emissions?

Not that any of us are perfect. I’ve responded to a Facebook post or two just for the chance to offer a smartass comment or continued an exchange that was clearly pointless. And I concede it is easier to tell a device to turn on the light than to do it yourself, but there are some devices out there now that will do this without firing up the internet and more such devices on the horizon.

Just think, you might be able to use these devices to actually reduce your energy use. You could sit in your easy chair and tell them to turn off the lights or other power-sucking devices you don’t need at the moment.

You could be lazy and saving the planet. Now think how good that would feel?






26 replies »

  1. The single biggest thing that American Consumers can do to reduce their impact on Earth is to switch to a plant based diet.

    “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Oxford’s Joseph Poore, who led the research.
    “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    “Meat and dairy provide only 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein, yet use up 83% of our farmland.
    Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the U.S., China, the European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world.”

    “For example, it is estimated that grain-fed beef requires 35 fossil fuel calories for every one calorie produced.”

    • I like meat and milk..Why do you feel the need to push your diet onto others? No to be an ass but, who cares that meat and dairy account for 83% of our faemland? I mean, that is what it is for no? Who gives a chit about Global farmland? Not I..Could give a rats arse how Europe feeds its people. The problem with your liberal elitists Steve is they think THEY know what is best for everybody. You want to be a vegan have at it. I have zero interest in that nonsense. We (humans) are here to have an impact on the planet. Why would I want to reduce my “impact” on the planet? What impact? All these silly arse terms “crisis, impact, footprint, sustainable, etc..”..
      Just live, eat, drink, be merry.

  2. Medred, YOU first. After all, your site takes up bandwidth. Follow your principle thesis here: find that old rusty Underwood and bang away on the backs of credit card bills and unfolded envelopes. YOU first!

      • Ted,
        You really sound a lot like Rod Perry?
        Funny that the two of you NEVER comment on the same story?
        Must be one of those wierd coincidences…

      • I knew something was up when “Ted” showed up defending the “I dit a gang” tooth and nail.
        Cemented my belief after “Rod” returned to comment on the Bud story…
        Quite appropriate handle as soap opera characters sure seem to mimic the dog crew up here in AK😉

      • Steve Stine,

        Yeah, it’s great to see, and even its opponents can’t pass on the story.


        It’s going to be a great race. Greatest eva? Prolly no … but that’s a very high bar.

        And it’s a different race. Some say lessor, others say smarter. You be the Judge.

        I don’t want 50 or 100 dogs. I grew up in dairy, the endless babysitting of animals.

        But we could now be looking forward to escalating performances & building excitement in a run of good years ahead. As they say in the movies …

        Ahhh … the smell of napalm in the morning!

      • Ted,
        Since you (R.P.) see yourself as a made for TV “man’s man” it is only fitting that you quote from the movie Apocalypse Now…
        I think the best line from the movie is at the very end when Marlo Brandon is asked by Charlie Sheen why he defected from the Army to live with the native Cambodian people of the jungle and “Kurtz” replies:
        “We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!”

      • Steve,

        Kurtz is interesting, his role is important, but he’s hardly a protagonist, and “to live with the Cambodians” ain’t even it.

        The Craig Medred-worthy thing about Apocalypse Now – and it’s redemption from Hollywood – is that it’s ‘just’ Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 landmark Heart of Darkness.

        Central to Conrad’s work is the idea that there is little difference between “civilised people” and those described as “savages”…

        A key awkwardness of Political Correctness stems from wanting to make animals equivalent to people, while avoiding the unavoidable corollary, that humans are very much animals. Stone Age animals, specifically.

        Aboard the Nellie, anchored in the River Thames near Gravesend, Charles Marlow tells his fellow sailors about the events that led to his appointment as captain of a river steamboat for an ivory trading company. As a child, Marlow had been fascinated by “the blank spaces” on maps, particularly by the biggest, which by the time he had grown up was no longer blank but turned into “a place of darkness”.

        Eight years after Joseph Conrad was a river steamboat captain on the Congo, the Alaska goldrush was creating one of the great river steamboat scenes, and attracting the attention of premier literary figures, world-wide. Only then & in that milieu did Joseph Conrad come to pen Heart of Darkness.

  3. At least Lozano admits that this is about controlling people and the activities of people, granted not in so many words. Asking for more regulation and holding up China as the shining example says enough. Anthropogenic global warming is about controlling people and the activities of people.

    Sure some useful idiots think that it is about saving the environment, they are easy to spot because they can’t think for themselves and simply parrot the exact same talking points over and over again. They would, as this article points out, be better at falling on their swords if they actually fell upon their swords…but useful idiots aren’t very good at that. Instead they blame everyone else for their own failures and minimize their own actual impact…algore comes to mind, Leonardo DiCaprio is another.

  4. Why really do Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos want to go into Space?

    To grab the gas-giant planets for hydrocarbon fuel, of course.

    Nobody believes CO2 is a problem. Nobody.

    Global players don’t believe either warming or CO2 are significant issues. If they actually thought the Arctic was opening up – beyond a brief weather fluctuation – trillions would be pouring into northern Alaska and Canada. Trillions. The biggest investment-rush in history, by far.

    Ain’t happening … because nobody believes CO2 is the driver of climate, and nobody believes the mild warm-spell of the last few decades constitutes climate-change.

    The climate fluctuates on a rough cycle of a few decades. Did we expect a thermostat on the wall?

    Before the current warm-spell was a cool-spell, culminating in 1970s concerns of a new Ice Age. Before that was a hotter spell than today’s, culminating in the 1930’s Dust Bowl, The Grapes of Wrath, and thousands of high-temperature records that still stand.

    The climate-concern we now face is that the rhythms of nature will next bring a cool spell … and indications that it might be an extra-strong one.

    • Ted,

      All anyone need do is look up the Holocene climatic optimum to see what the world’s climate has done since the ending of the last ice age. It was warmer in the early Holocene than it is now, the Arctic was largely ice free, sea levels were higher, trees and grassland covered the Sahara, the treeline in Northern latitudes was higher than present. About 5,000 years ago the Holocene climatic optimum ended and the climate became slightly cooler, with warmer and cooler periods here and there. Whenever warming spells occurred civilizations prospered. The Roman warm period was one such time, we are currently still cooler than that warm period. The Medieval warm period is another such warm period. Then came the little ice age, generally speaking the little ice age ended around 1850. This is around the time that the industrial revolution began.

      True believers in anthropogenic global warming use the industrial revolution as a starting point in virtually all of their talking points, because that is when we started using hydrocarbons in any meaningful amounts. The true believers simply gloss over (or are more likely completely ignorant of) the fact that the world was coming out of a cooler period and use those historically cooler temperatures as the starting point of what they arbitrarily decided was the new “normal” temperature. The problem with the true believers is that the ends justify the means and they will use anything that serves their purpose, since controlling people and the activities of people happens to be the ends they are after; using those historically cooler temperatures that occurred around the same time as the industrial revolution started is just a convenient way to spread their misinformation and further their goals.

      During, and after, the Holocene climatic optimum atmospheric carbon was at lower levels than today. If atmospheric carbon were the climate warming driver boogeyman that true believers think it is, then how was it warmer less than 5,000 years ago with less atmospheric carbon? If the warming of the early Holocene was caused by something besides atmospheric carbon, could that be causing warming today…warming that is still cooler than what was seen during the Roman warm period that ended less than 1,600 years ago?

      Humanity has thrived since the last ice age ended and the Holocene began. Every time there has been a warm period during the Holocene human civilization has prospered. That is why so many are scared and look to control and regulate people and the activities of people.

    • Steve,

      Yes, the facts, the evidence, the history, all tell us that man-made warming is simply made-up. In 1988 when Sen. Al Gore and Dr. James Hansen teamed up on the floor of Congress to kick off the Anthropogenic Global Warming movement, we were a mere one decade from published articles fretting that we might be headed for another Ice Age.

      That’s not science … it’s closer to Lysenkoism

  5. Wow…
    Even for Medred this is “exceptional”.
    No mention of the Pentagon and the War Machine’s budget that destroys the planet?
    No mention of the 100,000 commercial airline flights A DAY in America?
    No mention of the shipping of petroleum on the merchant marine system?
    No mention of the international cruise ship industry?
    How about the U.S. “fishing fleets” that suck millions of gallons of diesel?
    How about the U.S. commercial agriculture industry that is heavily energy dependent?
    No mention of the greenhouse gases released through natural gas drilling operations around the globe?
    As for China they are doing better than many of you think.
    Their military pollutes about a tenth of our forever war machine and they are in line to purchase more electric vehicles than any country of earth.
    This while China is finishing the largest solar farms on the planet…several of them!
    Sure, cutting back on screen time can help but there are much more sinister culprits in this debate on climate change…just ask Greta she knows the “low down”.

      • Bryan,
        First off, top grade solar panels can last 30 years without giving off a single greenhouse gas while producing electricity.
        Then there is RECYCLING of the old panels just like we recycle computers, batteries and transmissions in America.
        Both types—silicon based and thin-film based—can be recycled using distinct industrial processes.
        Currently, silicon based panels are more common…
        The recycling process of silicon-based PV panels starts with disassembling the actual product to separate aluminium and glass parts. Almost all (95%) of the glass can be reused, while all external metal parts are used for re-molding cell frames.”

      • Bryan,
        I can’t believe we are debating the ability to recycle solar panels?
        Europe has a nice recycling market developing since their panels are at least 10 years older than most panels in the U.S.
        Stick around…as more states pass “stewardship laws” regarding panels and recycling, I am sure a large solar panel recycling economy will develop in the U.S.
        The process seems pretty straightforward as we already recycle glass, aluminum and plastic.

        “So can solar panels be recycled?
        The short answer is yes.
        Silicon solar modules are primarily composed of glass, plastic, and aluminum: three materials that are recycled in mass quantities.
        This allows for the evaporation of small plastic components and allows the cells to be easier separated.
        Removing the aluminum frame (100% reusable)
        Separating the glass along a conveyor belt (95% reusable)
        Thermal processing at 500 degrees Celsius…This allows for the evaporation of small plastic components and allows the cells to be easier separated.
        Etching away silicon wafers and smelting them into reusable slabs (85% reusable)”

      • Solyndra perhaps? SolarCity!!

        Solar panels and wind turbines are both substantially a hybrid land-grab scheme, and subsidy-vulture scheme. And when the gimmick runs it’s coarse, they’re still holding the land! Woo-hoo!

        ‘Stewardship laws’, grasshoppers, are about putting a stop to the renewables-ripoff.

    • I think you missed the point Steve.

      Out of all the things you mentioned how much control do YOU have over them?

      Have you ever been in a server room, felt the heat that servers put off, heard the fans trying to cool, felt the air conditioning? That’s something you can control a part of. Now how about just the power used to keep your computer on, or charged up? How about the power used to make your computer work and connect to the interwebs and the series of tunnels that algore made?

      You can rail on and on about the military industrial complex and praise China’s “greenification”, all while overlooking the fact that they are the biggest contributor to atmospheric CO2 and all their other pollution. But you would rather use your computer to destroy the world in your own special way, just like algore and greta.

  6. I am going to give a shout-out to President Trump for “saving the planet”.
    “The bottom 25 percent of American wage earners secured the largest wage hikes year-to-year compared to all others for November, newly released data reveals, thanks to President Trump’s tightening of the United States labor market.

    Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that for the lowest wage earners, Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” economy has delivered the quickest rate of wage hikes in more than a decade.”

  7. More liberal-dribble..Just throw bullchit against the wall and let the looney base run with it.
    If what these whacks say is true then solar, wind, “Green”, etc.. is worthless and nothing but a money generating scam.
    Seems clean, environmentally sound nuclear power (and more of it) is the only solution. Let the Tweets begin…

  8. “Right. And rural China is so well known as a bastion of freedom.” Not traveled in rural China recently have you. Actually has more freedom of movement that the US of A.

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