Guest Post: On Water and The Climate Ahead

One of Greenmonk’s core beliefs is that the private sector is making all the running when it comes to long term sustainability thinking, so I was very interested to hear about a conference last week in which water utilities were meeting other stakeholders to discuss climate change related issues. Cortland Coleman was there and very kindly offered to write up the event. If you’re on twitter he is definitely worth following if you’re interested in sustainability.

“A symposium was held last week at Rutgers University in New Jersey, U.S., exploring how global climate change will impact the world’s precious water resources. “The Climate Ahead” was attended by state and federal government officials, researchers, regulators, students and environmental advocates. The annual symposium draws a growing audience of people working on water management issues, climate change and related environmental issues. Over 200 people attended this year’s symposium. There is no doubt that water resources and infrastructure will be stressed by the impacts of climate change. Demand for water is increasing while the supply of safe, healthy water is declining. Global climate change threatens to increase the gap between water supply and demand due to potential changes in weather patterns, seasonal shifts and watershed production. This growing gap could lead to large populations being more vulnerable to water shortages, as unequal access to safe water grows. These same populations are at a greater risk to be victims of flood, drought or other environmental disaster brought on or made worse by the impacts of global climate change. Managing depleting water resources will be a critical skill as we deal with the effects of climate change. Utilities are weighing the anticipated costs of climate change on their drinking water systems. Unfortunately, computer models cannot accurately factor in all variables and therefore, come up short when attempting to clarify and define risk mitigation, cost of not taking action, etc. What is clear is that water usage, conservation, filtration and distribution must all be closely and carefully examined as we work to finds new ways to meet the growing demands for water across the globe. Presentations from the seminar are now available for download from:

photo courtesy of ishrona under CreativeCommons Attribution 2.0 license.

Greenmonk partners with Akvo, the Open Source for Water.


Go Green Nippon Style: Turn Your Server Off at Night

I recently met with Fujitsu Siemens Computer about green data initiatives, based on what the joint venture calls IT with a sense of responsibility. The underlying hook to the narrative is Japanese/German engineering excellence (not a bad peg, I am sure you’d agree).

Bernhard Brandwitte, director of product marketing for FSC and perhaps more importantly in the context of behavioural change an excellent story-teller, told me something that really rocked me on my heels: in Japan its common to turn production servers off at night. Yup- apparently the Japanese insurance industry tries to avoid fires in plants at night by offering much cheaper cover for companies that power down after dark.

What does that mean in practice? A much more coherent backup and recovery strategy for one. A commitment to not 24/7, not follow the Sun, not have uptime for its own sake.

I have been thinking about this issue for a while, but it was a tweet from Chris Dalby this morning that pulled the trigger:

yellowpark is going green. I’m turning my server off each night 🙂

Chris is someone I deeply respect. Another cool thing is that he won’t shop at supermarkets- all his shopping is packaging free, from a local farm shop. When he tweets a delicious lunch menu you know the vegetables were never wrapped in plastic. That is a pretty good metaphor for Chris: He is very real, very passionate, and focuses on local issues. He is all about change from the grassroots.

Chris’ commitment to server-off computing is cool because he is an expert in technologies such as Windows Small Business Server, which he sells into small and medium-sized businesses. I wonder if he could set up a service helping SMBs become more green, given his bona fides?

All I know is that much as we should all turn off our appliances at night, and our cellphone chargers, so we should ask – do we really need that server on all night?


picture credit: Chris’s dog, from his moo cards, saying… “Turn that bloody server off, I’ll be your watchdog…”

disclosure: Chris is a friend.