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“100% Recycled Electrons” is no joke

from the who-says-it's-not-easy-being-green? dept.
AlterNet reports that the Internet is already having tremendous positive effects on the environment: "The emerging new economy created by the Internet is producing more than just a business revolution — it is also generating enormous environmental benefits…. While the nation's economy grew by more than 9 percent in 1997 and 1998, energy demand stayed almost flat in spite of very low energy prices, marking a major departure from recent historical patterns."

12 Responses to ““100% Recycled Electrons” is no joke”

  1. prion Says:

    this contradicts other reports

    I recently read some govt. projections that PCs by 2001 will be using 13% of gross electric consumption, and many local electric companies were fearing brownouts, and the possibility of being forced to buy power off the grid at 100x the normal rate, emergency rates power companies charge each other when they are in dire need. It was a slashdot article, will try to find it…

  2. prion Says:

    URL regarding PC induced power shortage

  3. BryanBruns Says:

    Re:URL regarding PC induced power shortage

    Thanks for the pointer. It is a good story about potential risks of electric overload from computers.

    Last week's Economist had a bullish editorial as well as a long story on the prospects for micropower. (Unfortunately a subscription may be needed to access the story and a quick websearch didn't turn it up anywhere else). They suggested that home generation of electric power, some solar but mostly natural gas, is getting more and more technically feasible and economically competitive, and could soon spread rapidly. Reminds me of the home enterprise in Unbounding the Future.

    There's more on profitable techniques for conserving electricity and other resources available from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

    I'd also like to say (at the risk of getting flamed) that it's nice to see you making this kind of constructive and substantive contribution to the discussion on Nanodot.

  4. prion Says:


    "I'd also like to say (at the risk of getting flamed) that it's nice to see you making this kind of constructive and substantive contribution to the discussion on Nanodot. " Have you read the *bulk* of my posts? I doubt it. I also spend a lot of time moderating here! But I do not suffer fools, and anyone who does is worse than a fool.

  5. SeanKiely Says:


    I suspect that Bryan decided to post his positive comment precisely because he DOES read the bulk of your posts. That's part of the problem; you post just enough useful, factual items to make it worthwhile wading through your over-the-top rants. Frankly, your screeds bother me MORE than the off-topic meanderings of Kadamose because I know I can safely ignore his postings without missing anything of value. Your postings are sometimes worthwhile… I just hate having to scan through the pebbles looking for the pearls. Thank you for looking up and posting the link.

  6. prion Says:


    polish away, little man.

  7. ChrisPeterson Says:

    how to conduct these interactions

    Friends of nanodot:
    It's good of you to take the time to give each other feedback, but it's off-topic. As a favor, I ask you to do these things in email rather than on nanodot. And thank you for participating–it's great to feel part of a team! I hope to meet you in person someday.
    –Christine Peterson

  8. RobVirkus Says:

    Re:this contradicts other reports

    Thanks for the URL. Interesting. I had heard that the slow growth of power capacity was due mainly to market uncertainty in light of pending industry deregulation. I still have somewhat mixed feelings about deregulation. I wonder if, in this case, a regulated monopoly can make the massive investments needed in the grid better than sudden and intense competition. Of course, the power industry has been badly burned by the irrational war against nuclear power.

  9. JohnAMontgomery Says:


    The two articles do not necessary contradict one another other. From what I understood one article is saying that energy consumption did not go up in direct relationship with the growth of the economy (unlike in years past), because new industry is displacing old industry. But what I understand from the other article is that the computers, which sustain the new industry, require huge amounts of electricity, which our current electric grids and power plants cannot support without additional power plants. Especially in those areas which are high tech concentrations. The possible near term solution (instead of building more power plants) is by making fewer computers do more. Computers are becoming more powerful as well as the software inside of them. We should also continue a commitment to creating alternative forms of power. If more and more of our industry become computerized we will need to shift our strategy in power consumption. At least until we can produce nano made solar cells.

  10. AndreasLigtvoet Says:

    "It is an immoral act to deny material reality"

    The quote really interests me; what would Popper have meant when he said: "It is an immoral act to deny material reality"? For exacly this is happening with e-commerce. Enthousiasts state that the value of e-commerce activities on the stockmarket is overtaking that of "brick-and-mortar" old economy. At the end of the day, however, we still want to buy our food, live in our house and use real-life products. It is not strange to assume that this need has not just faded away. Therefore, it seems that economic activity from e-commerce is activity on top of the old economic activity. You might depreciate these old activities and appreciate dotcoms, but the real-world needs are still there. Now, if you use new economy money as a measure of old economy activities, obviously the environmental impact per dollar will decline. The actual damage done, however, did not decline. To pat ourselves on the back and say that we're doing better, is really just fooling ourselves. For me it seems Popper was right.

  11. planetp Says:

    Re:this contradicts other reports

    I don't agree. Sure its should be obvious that the percentage of power consumption used by computers is increasing. We are becoming a computational economoy! But I what I think this trend is indicating, is that there is a lot less consumption of real-world resources to move information around – newspapers, rubberbands, packaging, magazines, etc. As well as all the energy consumed to produce and manufacture the pulp and printing materials, of such old world information distribution methods.

  12. Enon Says:

    Re:URL regarding PC induced power shortage

    I'd like to see how they did their reasearch before believing this. I don't spend 13% of my electricity on computers, and I have two. I use less electricity when I'm using my computers because I turn off the lights. The rest of the time, in standby mode with the screens off, should amount to only ~3kWH/day. If the 13%figure is true, then I suspect After Dark has more to do with it than computers per se.

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