Are Games Consoles Really Gas Guzzlers?

I found this story Interesting.

Apparently after the first “green” CebIT Greenpeace accused games console vendors of ignoring environmental concerns. some of the language and framing in the story is pretty darned strident.

Worldwide computer use requires 14 power stations for the necessary electricity, producing more harmful carbon dioxide emissions than the entire airline industry – not including the emissions created and manufacturing and shipping around the products in the first place.

And games consoles – of which 62 million were sold in last year – are the gas guzzlers of this industry, using huge amounts of energy to generate the necessary mindblowing graphics and sounds.

When played online, they are linked up to huge server farms which use even more energy.

And with each generation of console – we are currently on the seventh – repeatedly made obsolete by the newest technology, millions of machines, games and other accessories are thrown away, destined often for the developing world.

The gas guzzler comment gives me pause for thought because its so clearly rhetorical. I don’t actually know the wattage of these consoles (more homework!) but the story doesn’t appear to either. Its true though that hardcore gamers don’t tend to use a low wattage laptop. But what would a 17 year old be doing if not gaming? Driving around in a car their parents just bought them? Taking off to go travelling. Or maybe something carbon light.

Where the vendors have fallen down is in not responding to Greenpeace assertions. Microsoft, Nintendo, and SONY, and not one could muster a response. Not even IBM, which supplies the chips for the consoles, had anything to say. Note to the gaming industry: you may not be environmentally unsound, but you need a better story to tell. If I were you I would be talking about Bit Miles – how you’re encouraging the move to digital everything. Electrons are cheaper to ship that atoms.

That 50 inch plasma though… that’s a lot of electrons.



picture courtesy of blakespot on Flickr, with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.