Compute for the planet

The Bush administration's attempts to derail the global climate-change talks in Bali have put me on the verge of apoplexy. How the United States government, representing roughly 5% of the global population yet 22% of humanity's carbon emissions, chastises China and India for its actions yet takes responsibilty for nearly nothing, is shameful, immoral and pathetic.

Luckily, however, many people care about the survival of the planet and are doing a heckuva job (no, not you, Brownie) making the pot boil over and forcing our do-nothing, gridlock-loving politicians to take action in our name.

With the state of the pot still on simmer, you and I need to take action to reduce our carbon emissions. We geeks must put our minds to solving this problem by doing what we do with a fraction of the energy. The smart money is not on never going anywhere or doing anything, but rather on doing everything we do with a fraction of the energy. For instance, why not use the 20-Watt compact-flourescent lightbulb rather than the 100-Watt one? While the up-front investment is more, you save buckets of money over the long term. The EPA says you'll save $30 in energy costs over the life of a $3 compact-florescent. Do you need a Wall St. analyst to tell you that a 900% return on investment is worthwhile?

So, you've changed your lightbulbs, you say. What about my computer? Recently I stumbled upon a way for each of us to make a difference - the Climate Savers Computing Web site:

Climate Savers is a consortium of firms in the computing industry who are attempting to develop and market computing tools that have a lighter impact on the environment. Here are a few of the key members:

Sun Microsystems
Pacific Gas & Electric

The site offers individuals and businesses tools to make smart decisions about the products they buy, including a catalog of earth-friendly products and information about purchasing decisions, such as how much energy and money you'll save over time with Energy Star devices.

You can also make a pledge to make a difference by using the existing power management on your PC and purchasing energy-efficient computers in the future. Sure, the pledge is a bit hokey, but it's a good educational tool, I believe.

Please inform yourself about the environmental impacts of the computing you do, won't you? Show Mr. Bush how wrong he is about our concern for the planet.


James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal