IBM Supercomputer Saving Energy But Greenies See Red - InformationWeek

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Commentary
9/4/2009
12:12 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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IBM Supercomputer Saving Energy But Greenies See Red

The law of unintended consequences strikes again: a $50 million U.K. supercomputer designed to model weather patterns and watch for climate change has turned out to be an electricity-guzzling heat sink that has the greenies seeing red. But the managers of the country's most-powerful computer say its overall impact has cut emissions by 20 million tons.

The law of unintended consequences strikes again: a $50 million U.K. supercomputer designed to model weather patterns and watch for climate change has turned out to be an electricity-guzzling heat sink that has the greenies seeing red. But the managers of the country's most-powerful computer say its overall impact has cut emissions by 20 million tons.From a Daily Mail article:

The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon. It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

. . . . However the Met Office's HQ has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution - responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. It says 75 per cent of its carbon footprint is produced by the super computer meaning the machine is officially one of the country's least green machines.

Oh dear-what's a giant weather-simulation-supercomputer operation to do? Seems to me this is a terrific opportunity for some entrepreneurs to jump in and find creative ways to use wind power or solar panels or geothermal power to stoke the supercomputer without boiling the oceans in the process.

And if any of those alternative energy sources are truly viable for industrial-strength applications, we can all be certain that bright young minds, eager to tap into the billions and billions and billions of dollars that governments are throwing at "green energy" alternatives, will step forward and save the day.

Until such alternatives are firmly in place, though, our U.K. cousins might not want to shut down all their coal mines and oil wells because in spite of the greenies' horror at the energy-glutton supercomputer's appetite, the massive intelligence system has been saving human lives as well as dramatically cutting carbon emissions, according to comments in the Daily Mail article from Met Office spokesman Barry Grommett:

Despite its lack of green credentials Mr Grommett said the rating process was "fundamentally flawed" and claimed its carbon footprint was more than offset by the benefits it delivers. These included saving lives through severe weather warnings while its forecasting for the global aviation industry saved an estimated 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

So the only reasonable alternative here, based on those results, is for the Met Office to keep feeding this beast because it is delivering a positive net impact on saving lives and making travel safer as well as on the metrics that climate alarmists are most concerned about.

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