Thoughts on Green IT: From the LOOP to Leadville


On June 8, Dennis Howlett put up a 2000-word blog post on the implications of the worldwide climate change debate on information technology. Dennis' headline/question is a good one:


"Climate-change-driven IT spend: are we being hoodwinked?"


To be clear, he didn't take sides on the climate-change debate, he just suggested that the debate has some implications to IT spend. His point is that maybe "green IT" is kind of this decade's version of Y2K. But he clearly says "maybe/maybe not." And Howlett clearly spent a lot more time than anyone would typically spend on a blog post (just for reference, most blog posts are less than 400 words). Dennis' work deserves to be read and considered.


But don't read the comments. As was probably predictable, no one actually seems to answer his question in the comments section. Instead, the commenters take up sides in the climate-change debate. That debate is thankfully (for both you and me) something I know nothing about. I thought they taught us in grade school that carbon dioxide was good (something about us breathing it out and plants and trees taking it in, right?) and carbon monoxide was bad. That's my best shot. And I'm not even sure if I have that right after reading Wikipedia.


But I can envision some IT implications if the proposed related "carbon tax" passes in the U.S. Congress. (Note: it is not technically a tax; U.S. taxes are something I do know about). Gases have some funny implications for enterprise software. And taxes have some funny unintended consequences. Good programming is needed to track the volume of a shipment of natural gas from the wellhead a couple of miles down in the Gulf to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Platform (LOOP) through the Plains states' pipeline to mile-high Denver to the guy that needs the gas at 11,000 feet in Leadville. Not to mention you have to play with the equipment to burn the natural gas efficiently. Perhaps there are some similar IT implications in this carbon footprint thing as well.


But back to Dennis Howlett. My advice is "go with your gut on this one, Dennis."