Western governments have declared war on climate change. Sadly, they are not battling carbon emissions or inefficient energy usage, but rather the validity of science.

Perhaps it should not be a surprise that a man part-funded by ‘America’s Oil Champion’ Continental Resources would question whether oil consumption really should be capped, or that the UK government, desperate to start a fracking boom, tried to bury its own report on the dire effects of a changing climate (including what it means for data centers).

Supercomputer with super powers
– DCD/Holly Tillier

Doing your bit

But, while we may not be surprised, we should be concerned. Whatever one’s political views outside of this issue, the sad reality is that anthropogenic climate change is a scientifically accepted fact. There are no alternative facts on the matter, it is happening.

This opinion piece first ran in our February-March magazine, but since then the outlook for the environment has only degraded. President Trump’s executive order to dismantle Obama’s climate plans rolls back years of progress and makes it possible for companies to act untethered by climate concerns.

President & CEO of the World Resources Institute, Dr Andrew Steer, compared it to “taking a sledgehammer to US climate action.” It is up to industry to pick up the pieces.

In this world of new coal power plants and black tar sand mines, data centers may seem relatively innocuous, but they are contributing significantly.

Do not wait for your government to mandate action, look for ways to improve, no matter how small.

It is here the sector has a chance to lead. While data centers may not use as much energy as once feared, they are still responsible for more emissions than the airline industry, a sector that drew so much attention for its carbon output that last year the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization enforced efficiency improvements.

Do not wait for your government to mandate action, look for ways to improve, no matter how small.

Think about long-term savings, not just capex. Share ideas instead of keeping them to yourself. Embrace new technologies instead of sticking with what works inefficiently.

Large cloud companies have begun to commit to renewable energy power purchasing agreements, but they must be joined in this struggle over power.

While current administrations lazily toy with the idea of a carbon tax, remember this - governments change, and fast. Incorporating carbon-conscious proposals into the decision chain is not just ethical for today, but prepares your business for a future in which regulatory bodies may not look so kindly on those that pollute.

In this modern era of automation, many fear that people may turn against technological progress. To avoid this dark possibility, we should ensure that technological progress does not first turn against them.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb/March 2017 issue of DCD magazine