Following its public outburst criticizing Facebook's choice of location for its new Oregon data center, and more specifically the power supplier that provides power in the area, environmentalist group Greenpeace is going after all services provided over the Internet, referring to them cumulatively as "cloud."
Citing electricity-usage and carbon-emission statistics in a 2008 report by the Climate Group, a non-profit organization that lists many prominent corporations and city, regional and state governments from around the world, Greenpeace's new report titled Make IT Green calls for companies that provide services over the Internet to build their data centers in areas where power is generated by more renewable sources, such as hydro, wind or solar.
The group also calls on market leaders, such as Facebook and Google, to use their power to advocate for changes to government climate policies.
"If we hope to phase out dirty sources of energy to address climate change, then - given the massive amounts of electricity needed in order to run computers, provide back-up power and coordinate related cooling equipment that even energy-efficient data centers consume - the last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power," Greenpeace representatives wrote in the report.
The report uses the word "cloud" as "a metaphor for the Internet," to describe all services delivered online, such as online mail and document services, social networking, hosting and streaming of music and video files, etc.
According to the Climate Group's report, titled SMART 2020, energy consumption by data centers will result in 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, if current growth rates remain unchanged. The organization attributed 14 percent of total 2007 emissions to data centers.
In February, Greenpeace issued a public statement, condemning Facebook for choosing to build its new data center in Prinevile, Ore., where it will buy electricity from Pacific Power, which, like most energy companies in the US, uses coal to fuel the biggest portion of its total generation capacity.