In the Financial Times article, Big Tech races to clean up act as cloud energy use grows there are some scary numbers:
1. Tech emissions are growing by 6% per annum
2. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple, between them consume more than 45 terawatt-hours per annum (about the same as New Zealand!)
According to a Greenpeace article referred to by the FT:
3. Microsoft emitted 16m tonnes of greenhouse gas last year
4. Google 1.5m tonnes
5. AWS 44m tonnes
When I read this I was quite shocked, but one quote from the article got me thinking:
“One way to reduce growth of energy consumption would be for each individual to restrain themselves from consuming extraneous cloud services,” says Ferreboeuf of The Shift Project, “which is quite tricky because everything relies on cloud computing these days.”
I think Ferreboeuf has a point, however, not using extraneous Cloud services isn’t the real issue here. Some of these services are really useful, but it’s more about switching them off or scaling them back when you don’t need them.
The problem is we’re all incredibly busy and we tend to prioritise ‘getting the job done’ so we can move onto the next urgent task. It’s especially true in the DevOps space, with automation engineers focussing primarily on building things like test environments, but not on taking them down when they’re not required, such as overnight.
We have tested the impact of a simple use case of taking down and saving environments when they’re not in use, then bringing them back to the required state when they are. This action alone saved 50% of overall Cloud spend alone and was highlighted in a white paper I wrote recently.
Can you imagine if we all invested in this one use case and stopped wasting money, but more importantly reduced demand overall by 50%? Think of the millions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses that wouldn’t be pumped into the atmosphere!
Every significant change starts with individual action and a small but important individual impact. Is it not time that you start taking responsibility for the emissions you create?
If anyone wants to get some background on the use case I’ve referred to, please get in touch.