Server farms as polluting as air traffic

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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