Krista's Coding Corner

18.03.2012

Eco-code

I visited a flea market today, and as an inspiration, I decided to write about being eco with code.

Nowadays people want to be ecological / eco-friendly. We want to recycle, buy less unneeded stuff, save the planet and so on. Now, all this is great, it really is. At least I see no good reason to waste anything or use limited resources without thinking.

Normally we all understand that while using our computer we use electricity and in a way or another pollute because there is no way to create electricity without some contamination. (Sorry folks, but solar energy or wind energy is absolutely not totally safe and clean energy form because we still need the equipment to “catch” the energy.)

But for some reason we normally stop our thinking there.

If we browse the Internet, we also create a use of electricity elsewhere than our home: in the server that is holding the pages you are and all the routers between you and the server you are contacting.

Most of the pages in the Internet are located in server farms. Server farms contain enormous amount of electronics that run 24/7. They use massive amounts of energy. And they also waste massive amounts of energy. Just think how (probably) your computer gets warm when used. All that warmth is wasted energy (okay, in here north, where I live, it is quite nice if you can make yourself warm while using a laptop ^^) that is created by electricity. Same happens in server farms.

In some estimates, every spent Watt used to run servers, we need to spend 40-60% extra energy to cool the servers off [source]. That is a lot.

Why it is important that you know this? Because every human being should know what they are doing -and especially: what they are causing with their actions. And because coders/programmers can make a difference in this!

If we create bad code that is slow and is using a lot of memory + storage space, we create program that wastes energy. Becoming better and considerate coder means saving the planet :)

PS. This is especially important while doing large services like eBay, Facebook, Amazon… There the messy ineffective code really shows its claws.

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