<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Computers and climate change

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Most of us blame climate change on factories, airlines and cars. But global warming is also created by what you are using right now. Computers, printers and mobile phones are causing a lot of the damage.

The Economist cites a study showing that these devices account for the emission of 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide around the world in 2007. That’s about the same as the aviation industry’s contribution.

Indeed, we have the embarrassing revelations coming out of Britain that the supercomputer created by the United Kingdom’s Met Office to track climate change is actually one of that country’s biggest polluters.

So what can be done about the problem? Actually, there is a fair bit.

The Economist argues that computers might actually reduce climate change with the introduction of smart meters. According to that argument, it might make households more aware of their electricity use, and with that, computer use. Mind you, electricity is the smallest item on the household budget so I’m not entirely sure people will be that conscientious.

Electricity retailers in Victoria tell me that business down there has had smart meters since the 90s and there has been no reduction in consumption. Still, it might just work if Governments create incentives for people to cut down on power consumption.

More businesses are also turning to "virtualisation" where they can have multiple operating systems and applications can run on the same piece of physical kit.

The greener computing blog sees green IT as a growth area. It’s about reducing waste so in this economic climate, companies will jump on to it to save money.

And what can you do about. Some tips here include adjusting the power settings so that the screen turns off after a few minutes of being idle and turning off your computer at the end of the day.

Alternatively, there is now a Zero Carbon Computer Challenge, endorsed by G Magazine, where people can calculate how much energy their computer uses and then buy the appropriate amount of carbon credits to offset the use. It comes out to roughly $10 a year.

How should we tackle the problem of computers and climate change? What are some other green IT initiatives?