Green IT: dolphin-free computing

Puhleeese. Green IT is pure fad. Sitting in an air-con office made from cement and steel and plastics, with the SUV parked outside, banging on about saving a kilowatt is just PC hypocracy.

It is good to see manufacturers use less lead and mercury and halogens in manufacturing (because the European law forced them to) but so much of it is tokenism. Servers that use 100 Watts less energy. How much carbon does that save per year, compared to the carbon released in making the plastic and smelting the metal, and molding it, and the carbon released in engineering the chips in massively-climate-controlled fabrication plants? Spare us. If they really meant something other than saving a few bucks on cooling and rack space, vendors could really do a lot more for the environment.

Where is the equipment made from environmentally sustainable materials? When will hardware be built to be upgradable? Really upgradable, not modularly disposable. Bigger capacity disks into existing hard drive enclosures, faster heads into CDROM and DVD readers, more powerful processor chips in existing motherboards, swappable motherboards and screens for laptops, desktop PC rebuilds by the original manufacturer as standard procedure. When will keyboards and mice be built to last longer than a year or two? When will they be repairable?

Equipment packaged in "90% recyclable" materials. How about using recycled materials? If Green IT really does involve duplex printing, when will printing 2-pages-to-a-sheet duplex be the default OOTB setup for printers and when will software like GreenPrint pre-installed ?

Then we get the green nannies pestering us about behaviour. Turn off PCs! Use less paper! Look at this article

how much U.S. businesses could save by shutting down all their PCs at night and on weekends, according to a study released last month by the Alliance to Save Energy... That's $26 per PC per year, or 50 cents a week. In other words, this energy savings is trivial. It's a rounding error. It's less than the cost of two minutes of a typical employee's time each week, well under 30 seconds per day... And that doesn't begin to factor in the cost of blocking the IT department's after-hours remote maintenance and patches.

...or the wear and tear on the motherboard through constantly cycling from hot to cold and the fan bearings going from stop to spin. It probably reduces the life of the machine enough for the carbon footprint of the replacement to far outweigh the saved power.

It is all so much hypocritical faddish hogwash. Want to know what Real Green IT looks like? It looks like companies that run the same PCs until they wear out mechanically as well as Windowsically. It involves genuine compulsory recycling programs with the costs built into every product. It means true carbon-cost pricing and modified lifestyles to need less IT.

Do you know why manufacturers aren't doing more and consumers aren't legislating to make them (a few good European laws notwithstanding)? Because it would cost more and people don't want to really pay for environmentalism, they just want to pay lipservice.

What we have now is tokenistic dabbling designed to appease guilty consciences, cynical marketing to appeal to the faddist political correctness bullshit of environmentalism, and some real but tiny cost savings pimped up for their image-building PR value.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog

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