Letters to the Editor

Silver lining to GHG nightmare


Our modern lives would be unimaginable without electricity, and equally unimaginable without the communication and information technologies we’ve all come to know and love. But what most people probably never stop to think about is the fact that the lion’s share of electricity generated worldwide, which powers all this technology, comes from burning old-fashioned coal.

People might therefore be shocked to know that the world’s communications and information technology sector now rivals the airline industry in terms of carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions.

But there’s a potential silver lining to this carbon nightmare, because the information and communications technology that consumes so much electricity also makes it possible to put information and files, and make use of software, on remote computer servers that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Thus, if a significant percentage of the world’s computer servers and related equipment was physically moved to places like B.C. where we have an abundance of clean, renewable energy, those servers could be powered minus the burning of coal and be free of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it’s actually a lot easier to transmit bits of data than it is to transmit electricity, and that simple fact represents a golden opportunity for B.C.

Moving bits of data could open up B.C.’s renewable energy resources to the world in a way that is not possible with clean electricity alone. Bits of data can flow easily between B.C. and any place in the world, whereas B.C.-generated clean electricity can only flow to places physically connected to B.C.’s transmissions grid.

Relocating the world’s computer servers to B.C., the clean energy capital of the world, could therefore add a whole new dimension to our province’s growing clean energy offerings and result in economic diversity while spurring new job creation in communities that could greatly benefit from it.

Charles Davis, White Rock



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