Are Data Centers the Steel Plants of this Generation?
There was a time when the United States and Europe were large steel producers. Today, China has grown to be the largest steel producing nation on the planet, followed by Japan and the United States. The fact is, China produces about half of the world’s steel. Along with that title, China has developed a pollution problem and a serious one. In fact, China reduced or shut down dozens of steel plants through the winter of 2017-2018 to curtail the out of control air pollution in the country. It is said to be the largest shutdown of steel mills in history. China is experiencing the problems of an industrialized economy, much like that was seen in the United States and Europe in the 1950’s and 1960’s when smog hung heavy in the air over most major cities. Certainly, the world needs steel but that has to be balanced with the critical importance of clean air and water.
As North America and Europe have become less industrialized and more stringent pollution standards have been put in place, air quality has improved. However, there is an area of growing concern when it comes to the use of fossil fuels and energy use. It is the increasing problem of the massive energy use being created by data centers.
While it may be hard to imagine how the internet can cause a potential problem for our planet, one needs only perform a little due diligence to recognize the problem is real and it is growing. The question must be asked, “Are data centers the steel plants of this generation?”