Letter to the Editor: Cloud computing is becoming a big part of many people’s lives (whether they know it or not), and that growing computer cloud could have a very big silver lining for British Columbia. For those not completely up on cloud computing, it allows people to put their files and software on remote servers which they can then access from wherever they are; on their laptop, desktop, or any other computer device they own, including cell phones.
So what’s the silver lining for British Columbia? Well, all those remote servers that support the cloud require a lot of electricity, particularly to keep them cool. And right now, most of the cloud computing servers around the world are being powered, and cooled, by coal-fired electricity. In fact, information and communications technology (ICT) worldwide (which includes cloud computing) is now believed to rival the airline industry in terms of carbon emissions.
However, if the world’s cloud computing servers were moved to British Columbia, those servers could be powered by the abundance of clean, renewable energy available in this province instead of by burning coal or gas. Moving all those energy hungry computer servers to places like British Columbia, where clean electricity can be generated in abundance, seems like a very logical thing to do and a golden opportunity for British Columbia.
Charles Davis White Rock, BC
No one could have predicted back in the early nineteen-sixties that the race to put a man on the moon, and the basic scientific research needed to accomplish the task, would launch the multi-billion dollar semiconductor industry and ultimately lead us to personal computers, Microsoft, Apple and Google. But that’s exactly where the space race and the basic scientific research lead us; as well as to many of the other technological marvels we enjoy in every facet of our lives.
That’s why I was so excited to read about the game-changing accomplishment of a team of Canadian physicists lead by a researcher at UBC’s TRIUMF particle accelerator. They succeeded in storing antimatter in a special apparatus for more than 16 minutes; infinitely longer than anyone else has ever previously achieved (notwithstanding the fictional use of antimatter in the Star Trek TV series).
Just like the space race of the sixties, no one can predict what the future energy potential may be for antimatter provided a way can be found to produce and store it reliably. But as everyone knows, matter and energy are interchangeable (E=MC2) and a little bit of matter can be transformed into a lot of energy.
Energy is the fundamental building block of human civilization. Without energy, civilization would not be possible and we would be lost. That’s why basic scientific research into such matters is so essential even when you cannot predict where it will lead.
However, it is very clear that scientific research has reliably lead us from very basic energy sources like burning wood to increasingly more sophisticated energy sources that are cleaner, more powerful and more practical. Pushing forward with research that could lead to new sources of clean energy is therefore well worth the effort even if the final destination cannot be precisely known from the starting point.
Michael McBratney – Port Moody, B.C.
You won’t find me disputing the fact that conserving energy is the cheapest way to satisfy growth in demand for energy. Any energy we don’t need to consume equals energy infrastructure we don’t need to build. And every time we buy an energy efficient device or appliance we are effectively contributing to energy conservation and helping to avoid the massive capital costs associated with building new energy generating infrastructure.
But having said that, it is equally true that energy conservation alone will not satisfy all of the growth in energy demand we are going to see in BC and around the world in the next few decades. That means we can’t ignore the need to build new energy generating infrastructure even as we work to conserve energy.
Conserving energy certainly saves us money, but building new energy infrastructure — and building it in the greenest possible way — contributes to local economies and creates jobs. And creating jobs, while also satisfying the world’s need for greener energy, is as important as conserving energy. As with most things in life, a balance has to be struck between the two, because both are needed to meet the energy demands of the future.
Christopher Law Coquitlam BC