Well, here’s an interesting analysis of the lifecycle emissions of a computer. Turns out that computers require something like ten times their weight in fossil fuels to manufacture. Which is an order of magnitude higher than other durable goods, like cars and fridges, which only require about their own weight in fuel to manufacture. Oh, and the flat screen display accounts for the majority of it.

Okay, so I’ll concede that my computer is an order of magnitude more useful to me than a fridge (which after all, only does one thing). But it does mean that if we focus only on power consumption during use, we might be missing the biggest savings opportunities.¬†

The analysis is from the book Computers and the Environment, edited by Kuehr and Williams, and here’s a brief¬†review.

Having ranted yesterday about how discussions about our personal carbon footprints are a distraction, I now feel obliged to raise an exception. If we’re talking about how to use our software expertise to support personal footprint reduction on a grander scale, I’m all for it. Along those lines, here’s a list of ten green Internet startups – companies looking to leverage Internet technology, to support ‘greening’ initiatives. These ten were presented at a conference in SF yesterday called Green:Net09, and a panel of judges selected a winner – presumably the company most likely to succeed. The judges picked WattBot, while the audience favourite was FarmsReach.

Two related items, each occupying an interesting spot on my map of the “climate informatics” research space:

via grist, a wonderful five-part primer on Smart Energy Grids. Think of it as “the internet for energy transactions”. And think of all the interesting software engineering challenges in making it work.

via Steve Fickas, an interesting post on green clouds. And to think that I previously thought that cloud computing was deadly dull. Add an Energy Star rating to every application you run, and see what happens…