Bush admin. official: IT back-offices 'centers of enormous waste'

Speaking at an official United Nations function in New York this morning on technology and climate change, a DOE official denounced the world's data centers for their role in contributing to global climate change.

UNITED NATIONS (BetaNews) - US Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency Alexander Karsner, speaking this morning before a United Nations conference on the technology industry's responsibility for the global environment, said that as the world's data centers become more clustered and crowded, they expend too much space and electricity and generate too much heat and emissions. As such, Sec. Karsner said, the typical enterprise data center has become "a center of enormous waste."

Leaders in the IT industry should step up their game, he stated, suggesting they "can transform beyond helping to solve problems" and rebuild their data and manufacturing facilities to become more climate-conscious. Such new centers, he said, could become "templates and models for others to follow."


Karsner is slated to represent President Bush next month at a two-week UN conference in Bali, Indonesia. There, the UN Framework on Climate Change will discuss, among other matters, models for energy-efficient manufacturing facilities. A new industry could develop in itself for renewing and rebuilding factories worldwide, and the US has an opportunity here to play a decisive role.

Toward that end, Sec. Karsner told the audience this morning that the US and China have ironed out their differences for a major bilateral agreement on biofuel production. Last week, he met with his Chinese counterpart, deputy chief of China's National Development and Reform Commission, Zhang Guobao. Though China has yet to make a formal announcement, Karsner's mission-accomplished proclamation signals the two countries may have come to terms on trade and co-development regarding the use of non-edible feedstocks, such as certain grades of corn, to produce biofuels.

But while in Bali, Karsner plans to make the case that not only should fuel itself become more efficient, but the devices that use fuel and electricity must be rapidly reformed for greater efficiency. Foremost among these on his list is the microchip, which he repeatedly singled out as a poor performer in general efficiency, due most likely to its heat emission.

Manufacturers and engineers, he advised, shouldn't wait for a meltdown or the approach of some technological barrier before acting to make design changes. "We shouldn't wait for a 'Big Bang,"' he told the UN. "Time is of the essence."

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