All these raindrops make a flood

In The Skeptical Environmentalist (so far an excellent read), Bjørn Lomborg wrote:

... Over the same period Denmark actually went even further and "delinked" the connection between a higher GDP and higher energy consumption: in total Denmark used less energy in 1989 than in 1970 despite the DGP growing by 48 percent during that time.

Was this in the section about how better environmental regulation can lead to growth? No, it was in the section about how we don't need to panic about resources running dry because, for one, we use energy more efficiently all the time.

It's not that Congress passes a law that changes the rules of the universe for the benefit of our entire economy. It's a little advance made by GE here, a little advance made by Georgia Power there, and little advances made by manufacturers X, Y, and Z in the meantime.

Current example:

Sun Microsystems has announced the launch of its UltraSparc T1 chip, previously codenamed Niagara.

The chip is more powerful than its predecessors, uses less electricity, and is dubbed by Sun as "the world's first eco-responsible processor" due to its low power consumption.

The multi-threaded, multi-core UltraSparc T1 uses about 70 watts of electricity, considerably less than the 150 to 200 watts that most microprocessors in servers consume, according to the firm.

Is this a complete revolution in energy consumption? No. And that's ok. This is part of the evolution occurring in the marketplace every day towards more efficient energy use. That evolution is why the environmentally-minded should be optimistic.

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Ever pay attention to the

Ever pay attention to the differences between Pentium 4 and Pentium M? Pentium M is clock-for-clock faster, uses quite a bit less power, and is in general, a better processor.

One of the newest Pentium M chips out (codename "Dothan") can run completely fanless at 1.4G... Power consumption is 10W max. Compare that to any Pentium 4, which will probably be humming along at 40W or more.

(for more info, check out http://users.erols.com/chare/elec.htm)

One of the beautiful things

One of the beautiful things about microprocessors is that it's virtually impossible to increase their performance nowadays without also decreasing the ratio of power consumption to performance, which means that with just about every new generation of processor, the same task takes significantly less energy.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about new generations of software. It's pretty ridiculous that Windows XP doesn't do any voltage or clock scaling on Pentium M processors other than slowing down the processor when you are running on battery.

Update: I found a useful little applet called SpeedSwitchXP that will dynamically scale your clock and CPU voltage on CPUs that support it! My laptop now runs much cooler and is more environmentally friendly!

Surely

Surely "environmentally-minded" and "optimistic" are mutually exclusive categories? :end:

It’s not that Congress

It’s not that Congress passes a law that changes the rules of the universe for the benefit of our entire economy. It’s a little advance made by GE here, a little advance made by Georgia Power there, and little advances made by manufacturers X, Y, and Z in the meantime.

I'm delighted that Georgia Power has expanded into the lucrative Danish market.

- Josh