Unless the IT industry adopts new energy-efficient technologies in the coming decade, it runs a serious risk of being unable to contribute to growing the global economy if limits are placed on carbon emissions.
The findings come from an 18-month investigation by scholars at the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) in Singapore and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.
"In the face of growing global concerns over greenhouse carbon emission, the key for the industry is finding new technologies that deliver more performance for each kilogram of CO2 emitted," said Rice computer scientist Krishna Palem, who directs ISAID, a joint institute of Rice and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
"Fortunately, there are viable technological options on the table and the information and communication industries have a strong track record of embracing new technologies."
The report found the information and communication technology (ICT) industry in the U.S. is on pace to grow its carbon emissions at twice the rate of its contributions to gross domestic product over the coming decade.
"In the U.S. in 2009, the economic output of the ICT industry per kilogram of CO2 emitted was about $2.83, and in a business-as-usual scenario, that output will fall to about $1.06 per kilogram of CO2 by 2020," said study co-author Chris Bronk, a fellow in technology, society and public policy at the Baker Institute and lecturer of computer science at Rice. "Based on those numbers, the industry is headed for a brick wall if limits are placed on CO2 emissions. In a carbon-constrained economy, green innovation will be absolutely essential for ICT profitability."
The report included a painstaking analysis of both the carbon emissions and the amount of gross domestic product (GDP) that are delivered each year by the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. The report also offers a new metric, the sustainability innovation quotient (SIQ), which expresses the number of dollars returned in GDP by the ICT industry for each kilogram of carbon dioxide it emits.
"Sustainability research and development is one of the key thrusts for NTU, and the latest research findings involving scholars from the joint NTU-Rice Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics, are a further affirmation of NTU's capabilities and commitment in promoting sustainability globally," said NTU Provost Bertil Andersson. "The Sustainability theme pervades the University, and it is through initiatives such as ISAID that NTU aims to promote and develop new energy-efficient technologies, playing its global role in achieving a sustainable Earth."
The report grew out of a graduate course on information technology sustainability that Bronk and Palem, Rice's Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor of Computing, co-taught at Rice in spring 2009. In preparing for the course, Palem and Bronk found a dearth of verifiable information about the ICT industry's carbon footprint, and Palem suggested the in-depth analysis after neither they nor their students found a reliable metric that related the ICT industry's contribution to gross domestic product relative to its carbon footprint.
Working with Bronk and Palem, graduate students Avinash Lingamneni and Kirthi Muntimadugu compiled numbers from government and industry sources. The team determined the number of various devices that are in use today, how much energy they consume and how that consumption is likely to be effected by expected growth in demand. Because IT devices don't emit CO2 themselves, but instead use electricity that is produced largely by burning coal and natural gas, the authors factored in the effect of cleaner, more efficient electric production technologies that will be rolled out in the coming decade.
In addition to information technology staples like PCs and laptops, the authors studied communications devices like smart phones, and they considered the impact of video game consoles -- one of the market's fastest growing product segments. Networking equipment for telecommunications and wireless providers was not included in the report, but data centers were, due largely to previous studies that had looked at their energy consumption in significant detail.
The authors calculated the global carbon emissions that will likely result if the ICT industry continues with business as usual. The calculations showed that global carbon emissions related to PCs and laptops, which accounted for 48.5 percent of all global ICT emissions in 2009, will nearly quadruple by 2020. Data center-related emissions will more than triple by 2020, and calculations showed that emissions related to both game consoles and mobile phones will more than triple by 2020. Mobile phones, which are constrained by battery life, and game consoles will together account for just 5.01 percent of total ICT emissions by 2020.
ISAID, a bi-national institute founded in 2010 by Rice and NTU, is based in Singapore and dedicated to developing, finding and fostering sustainable, low-cost, energy-efficient information technologies.
The full report is available at: http://www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/multimedia/2010-10-11-ictreport.pdf.
David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy