£4 million to help local authorities fight climate change

Interesting news item this morning on eGov monitor:

 A new £4 million programme to help local authorities tackle climate change was announced by Environment Minister Phil Woolas and Local Government Minister John Healey today.

The programme will spread existing best practice on climate change among local authorities, and provide training and mentoring to help them reduce emissions and adapt to the already unavoidable effects of climate change.

The programme, jointly funded by Defra and Communities and Local Government, will be tailored to local needs and priorities, with delivery being co-ordinated at a regional level.

It will be interesting to learn how this best practice is going to be shared. The first thing I would do would be to start a Community of Practice on the subject.

Future of the cloud

Interesting column from John Naughton in today’s Observer on the potential issues of an increased focus on ‘cloud computing’ ie using online services like Google Docs, etc. Firstly he talks about the recent outages in Asia caused by the Pakistani authorities re-routing YouTube to nowhere – in other words, just how stable is the web? – and secondly he discusses the environmental issues.

A comprehensively networked world requires unconscionable numbers of ‘server farms’ – huge warehouses stuffed with computers consuming vast quantities of electrical power. We haven’t yet begun to think seriously about the environmental footprint of this kind of technology, but it’s clearly significant.

Some companies are already aware of the looming environmental issues. Google’s senior executives are reportedly obsessed with their company’s power consumption. And last week IBM launched a new mainframe which provides the computing power of 1,500 PC-based servers but with 85 per cent lower energy costs. Perhaps this is a token of what’s to come: the mainframe is dead; long live the mainframe!

Or, the network is the computer. Interesting, the green angle on this. I had always equated innovative methods of online working as being environmentally friendly. This aspect has taken me rather by surprise.