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March 30, 2010

Green Group Claims Facebook & Others Polluting Environment with Coal Powered Data Centers



While there are millions of Facebook (News - Alert) users every day, it’s rare for any of them to think of what it really takes to run such an operation. But, what many users don’t know is that all of those status updates, e-mails and data, are all stored in data centers that hold down the “cloud” fort, but – according to a new Greenpeace report – create quite a cloud of pollution.

Greenpeace is also saying that Apple (News - Alert) and others building data centers to host the “cloud” interface are also adding to this problem.

A Facebook facility will rely on a utility whose main fuel is coal, while Apple Inc, expecting its Web-browser iPad launch on April 3, is building a data warehouse in a North Carolina region powered by coal, the environmental organization said in the study. The report comes in the middle of a new federal debate whether to create caps or other measures to cut use of carbon-heavy fuels like coal and curb climate change.

When TMCnet reached out to Facebook, a spokesperson said the social media site is thrilled at its choice in Oregon and that Facebook is challenging the industry to think creatively to meet the standards it has set in efficiency.

“As we continue to grow, we’re committed to environmental responsibility and will be seeking and evaluating more ways to minimize and offset our impact on the planet.  In selecting Oregon, we chose a region that offers a uniquely dry and temperate climate,” the Facebook spokesperson told TMCnet.

According to report analysts, the last thing the environment needs is more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power.

The environmentalist organization also claims that Apple, Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo and Google (News - Alert) all are repeat offenders, claiming that each Internet sensation has a coal power-fueled data centers.

The companies declined to give details of their data centers, but all said they considered the environment in business decisions, and most said they were aggressively pursuing efficiency.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly 'green' technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire


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