Adaptation and Solutions to Climate Change

Solutions to Computer Production Pollution

As we know, pollution is a huge issue that many companies are failing to tackle because of the enormous cost they must incur in order to fix this problem.  However, according to the epa.gov summary of cost and benefits of the Clean Air Act, companies need to be willing to take this cost for the future.  The benefits clearly outweigh the costs when the Clean Air Act was implemented in the USA(50 billion in costs to about 1900 billion in benefits), however, many companies manufacturing computer technologies outsourced and went overseas to avoid these costs.  The solution these same companies should take is to implement regulations like the Clean Air Act and maybe some that are even stricter upon themselves.  Instead of requiring governments to force these companies to comply, they should take it on themselves to make cleaner pollution a standard.  It is impossible to fully remove pollution as a byproduct of production of these computer parts, however, we can improve the quality of the pollution that is produced.  Companies need to be willing to take the utilitarian approach and take the costs upfront.  This is the solution that will benefit the most amount of people, the whole world.

The second, and probably more realistic option, is that other countries will being to see the benefits and necessity of cleaner air and push these regulations on the companies.  Eventually, there will be nowhere for these companies to outsource to because laws will be similar in every country requiring this cleaner pollution standards.  In 2013, Kate Galbraith wrote an article for the New York Times saying, “The Chinese government is working on the problem(pollution) and recently announced new limits on pollutants along with the promise of increased monitoring.”  If China, one of the world’s biggest economies right now, is working on taking measures to solve the problem, other countries, like Taiwan, will not be far behind.  What this means is that even if companies do not make it industry standard to have this clean pollution, they may not have a choice in the end.  The only thing we can hope for is that countries force these regulations on them before it is too late.

china

As the computer industry continues to grow and climate change grows, there must be more influence in adapting new methods that will overall help the environment. Luckily with new emerging technologies such as electric cars, solar panels, and airborne wind turbines are helping power the world today. This is an adapting to climate change since burning fossil fuels for energy is inevitably causing the world to become warmer.

Adapting to electric cars and hybrids are becoming popular alternatives to saving money on gas, but ultimately they’re overall beneficial to the environment. Although there have been controversial debates stating that electric vehicles are extremely pollutant, research has shown that the national average for Tesla’s Model S CO2 emissions is 163 grams per mile, while gas cars emit 400 grams per mile (Noland, 2013). Additionally, cars contribute averagely around 8,320 carbon per year (American Forests, 2015). If more people start using electric or hybrid cars, there’ll be a great reduction to CO2 emissions which will help mitigate climate change.

Secondly, the world is heavily powered by fossil fuels which is non-renewable and causes climate change through outputting CO2. Research has shown that coal burning used to power homes for electricity accounts for 37% of all CO2 emissions, being the highest overall contributor to carbon emissions (EPA, 2015). With the use of solar panels, this can drastically help reduce the emissions produced for powering homes and reduce climate change. Places like California where there’s rarely rain and has plenty of sunshine would be most ideal for anyone to purchase a solar panel to power their home. Solar panels definitely help cut carbon footprint of homes since solar panels produce about 50g of CO2 per kWh compared to coal’s 975g of CO2 per kWh (Burkart, 2010). Tech companies like Apple, located in California, already have plans for using solar panels for their facilities which will help mitigate climate change.

Additionally, one of the newer methods in energy production is airborne wind turbines. This is a great adaption to climate warming due to the fact that they’re harmless to the environment, work perfectly in areas that are dry, is renewable, and can power up to 12 homes (Patterson, 2014). Google, a tech company in California, is also focusing on creating these wind turbines at this very moment while other industries are trying to create their own too. Airborne wind turbines produce energy similar to wind turbines stationed on the ground, by using the wind to create a windmill effect. Airborne wind turbines function great in areas such as California because there wouldn’t be too much damaging weather such as rain.

In conclusion, due to climate change places all over the world are innovating technology that will benefit our environment. For example, due to the drought in California, the population of California is adapting effectively by using less water and companies in California are starting to use renewable resources of energy such as solar or wind.

Silicon Valley tech companies as a whole are soon to be experiencing the negative effect of climate change. How it effect these tech companies is the rise in sea level can pose a severe risk to $21 billion in property and livelihoods in the affected areas since companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and others are situated near the sea. Scientists estimate that the sea level in California could rise 16 inches in the next 40 years and 55 inches by 2100 (Feinstein, 2012). As Feinstein pointed out in her San Jose visit, the impact would be huge. In response to the change in climate, some effort were try to mitigate the rise in sea level by the use of physical barriers like the levee (Nguyen, 2007). By building a levee, residents and tech companies can somehow protect themselves and their property from the overflowing of sea water. Another possible action are regional restoration. With the threat of sea level rise looming, major wetland restoration projects can aim to build ecological resilience and buffer the impacts of storms on the shoreline since the gradual slope of a marsh can reduce the energy of a wave (Tam, 2014).

Work Sited

The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. (2011, March 1). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.epa.gov/cleanairactbenefits/feb11/summaryreport.pdf

Galbraith, K. (2013, October 30). China’s Clean-Air Drive Likely to Take a Long Time. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/business/energy-environment/chinas-clean-air-drive-likely-to-take-a-long-time.html?_r=0

Burkart, K. (2010, July 17). How much CO2 does one solar panel create? Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/how-much-co2-does-one-solar-panel-create

Carbon Emissions from Cars | American Forests. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from https://www.americanforests.org/a-carbon-conundrum/

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Greenhouse Gases Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases.html

Noland, D. (2013, May 31). Does The Tesla Model S Electric Car Pollute More Than An SUV? Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1084440_does-the-tesla-model-s-electric-car-pollute-more-than-an-suv/page-2

Patterson, T. (2014, May 12). Meet the BAT. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/12/tech/innovation/big-idea-airborne-wind-turbines/

Nguyen, N. (2014, June 16). Sea Rise Will Bring Severe Floods to Silicon Valley | Climate Central. Retrieved May 13, 2015, from http://www.climatecentral.org/news/sea-level-rise-floods-silicon-valley-17565

Tam, L. (2014, April 1). Taking Action on Sea Level Rise. Retrieved May 13, 2015, from http://www.spur.org/publications/article/2014-04-10/taking-action-sea-level-rise

Feinstein, D. (2012, May 21). United States Senator Dianne Feinstein. Retrieved May 13, 2015, from http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/4/mercury-news-editorial-silicon-valley-must-protect-against-catastrophic-sea-level-rise

Future climate changes and the impacts

Pollution

Pollution is on the rise in the world.  While most companies already know that contaminating the air is an issue, many have yet to adjust to the changes required to fix it. Computer companies and companies that manufacture parts for computers still use many overseas factories that are located in areas in which pollution laws are minimal.  Computer companies do this because it is cheaper to manufacture parts when you do not have to conform to regulations.  However, these actions are what is causing our future to be grim. Back in 2007, the IPCC states “Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.”  This is a clear statement that in the future, companies will have no choice but to conform.  While future changes in our climate become more and more real, the same companies will have to figure out renewable ways to continue doing what they are doing.  Ways that many already exist on the planet but just have not been adapted to in every part of the world.

The biggest future impact most computer companies are worried about is the economic costs of changing all their productions to be in accordance with clear air regulations, such as the Clean Air Act in the America.  However, as it turns out, companies should in fact follow and adapt to these changes readily with a bright future ahead of them.  According to Gina McCarthy, writer for The Huffington Post, “Every dollar we’ve invested to comply with the Clean Air Act has returned $4 to $8 dollars in economic benefits.”  What this is saying is that Computer companies should not be afraid of adapting to the solution.  While initial investment may be high, over time it will all pay off and even be beneficial in an economic sense in the future.

This figure is a chart showing projected surface temperature change in the future.

Cody's Pollution

 

Plant Hardiness Zones

Today, climate change is affecting our planet, but also affect major companies and industries . As can be seen by the drought affecting California many restrictions are being applied to individuals and other companies. As a resident within the Silicon Valley, it is important to understand the future impacts of plant hardiness zones and climate change that can cause problems within the companies that power the Silicon Valley.

With the computer industry being already damaging to the environment, there can be plenty of restrictions applied if Plant Hardiness Zone changes. Preserving plant hardiness zone is important for California, especially, since they’re a major exporter of agricultural goods across the country. If lesser crops were suitable for the temperature of California, this would hurt California economically since California agriculture generates about $37.5 billion annually, which is more than any other state (California Food, n.d.). Over time the computer industry can cause a climate change due to the carbon dioxide being released in the process of manufacturing computer chips. Computer chip manufacturing can also influence acid rain which can destroy crops and damage the ecosystems within water reservoirs. In addition to water, manufacturing computer chips can use up to 10 gallons of water (Smarter Living, n.d.). Water is becoming more scarce in California and is essential for crops since they require moisture, which California is lacking. To preserve the Plant Hardiness Zone of California companies like AMD, a major manufacturer in microchips with a plant in California, should look to relocate their infrastructure or to operate on regulations to maximize profitability.

Regardless of the possible restrictions and impacts that companies may face for operating a computer manufacturing plant in California, Apple is actually looking to have a manufacturing plant in Northern California. This can threaten the Plant Hardiness Zone, thus causing the company to possibly operate under regulations which would hurt Apple financially. Apple, however, is going to spend over $850 million dollars to construct a solar power plant in Northern California (Guynn, 2015). This is greatly beneficial since solar power generates electricity without influencing acid rain or climate change. Apple’s decision to operate their infrastructure in California using their own power plant can be seen as a regulation due to climate change, but possibly the most ideal way more manufacturing plants should operate if threatened by climate change.

In conclusion, to preserve the Plant Hardiness Zone of places like California, computer companies and more alike would more likely be punished through restrictions that would make things more difficult or extremely costly.

 

How Future climate changes(temperature) affect health and people who maintain server racks 
As the temperature increases, the equipment of data centers can overheat and break down (Geist, 2013). Many companies use expensive air conditioning to maintain the server rooms at the ideal temperature so that it doesn’t overheat. However, raising the temperature of server rooms will actually make data centers more energy efficient (Miller, 2013).According to Miller (2013), server rooms can be way too hot for humans and can reach to a temperature higher than 95 degrees. The average temperature for data centers range from 68 to 72 degrees, which is acceptable for humans (Miller, 2013).This causes a huge problem in the industry because we need workers to maintain the server rooms.

When the average global temperatures increase, the threat of a heat stroke increases. A heat stroke is a condition caused by failure of body’s temperature control system when exposed to high temperatures. It is a serious injury because it can cause brain damage, fainting, and exhaustion of the body. For example, in July 1995, there was a heatwave in Chicago that killed 514 people and hurt 3300 people; those who are most vulnerable are the elderly and people who had an illness during the heatwave (Hales et al., 2015).

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The graph above shows the increase in temperatures in future years with different scenarios.

 

The effects of sea level rise due to climate change on Silicon Valley tech companies.

Major negative effects of climate change are here now and they’re only getting worse. One of the most pronounced effects of climate change has been melting of masses of ice around the world (“Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans,” n.d, para. 1). The result of melting of glaciers and ice sheets adds water to the oceans thus in-turn contributing to sea level rise.

iceeeeeee

Apparently, this a threat to many tech companies like Google, Yahoo, Dell, Facebook, LinkedIn, Intuit, Intel, Cisco, Citrix, Oracle and other. The main problem with all this companies relating to climate change is that they all have headquarters situated in Silicon Valley, the hot spot for tech companies, but is also becoming a hot spot for sea level rise (Treacy, 2012). This is because Silicon valley is situated 3 to 10 feet below sea level which made it vulnerable to the effect of climate change. According to the Eric Mruz, manager of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, neighbor of Facebook said that Facebook’s headquarters beside San Francisco “is pretty much surrounded by tidal waters,”” (Treacy, 2012).

Facebook Headquarter

Facebook current have an 8-floor levee to hold back the tides, but with sea level rise projections skyrocketing and The Army Corp of Engineers conducted a study that found that a large storm coupled with sea level rise could easily top the levees around Silicon Valley (Treacy, 2012). These tech companies will definitely have to do something about it, if they want to protect their properties.

 

Work Cited

McCarthy, G. (2013, December 6). The Value of U.S-China Clean Air and Climate Cooperation. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-mccarthy/the-value-of-uschina-clea_b_4398280.html

Projections of Future Changes in Climate. (2007, January 1). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-projections-of.html

California Food Production is discussed at Keep California Farming.org. (2014, February 28). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://keepcaliforniafarming.org/california-water-crisis/farming-california-news/california-food-production/

Guynn, U. (2015, February 11). Apple to build $848 million solar plant. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/02/10/apple-848-million-solar-farm-first-solar-tim-cook/23192299/

Smarter Living: Stuff. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.nrdc.org/living/stuff/your-computers-lifetime-journey.asp

Future Climate Change. (2014). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/future.html

Global Warming Effects on Air Temperature. (2011). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/air-temperature.html

Environmental Monitoring News – Data Center. (2013, July 16). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.itwatchdogs.com/environmental-monitoring-news/data-center/server-room-temperature-on-the-rise,-study-finds-472652

Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2015, from http://www.climate.org/topics/sea-level/

Treacy, M. (2012, December 12). Silicon Valley Faces Effects of Climate Change. Retrieved April 18, 2015, from http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/silicon-valley-facing-effects-climate-change.html

How climate is changing as we know it

Temperature

The temperature all around the world is increasing.  This is a fact and there is no evidence that says otherwise.  According to nasa.gov (2014), “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8o Celsius (1.4o Fahrenheit) since 1880.”  This means that since around the beginning of the industrial revolution, the Earth’s temperature has steadily increased by a number that seems relatively small, but is it?  While the number may seem small, it takes a massive amount of energy (heat) to increase temperature on the global scale by that much.  The world is a big place, it has many areas that are getting colder, but that means an even greater number of areas are getting just that much warmer.  This also means region to region temperatures may be increasing more or less than the total average.  For example, in California, not only do we have a drought, but undoubtable anyone who has lived here for a long time has noticed a big increase in temperature from what it used to be even back in the 1970’s.

Cody's graph

This graph shows the upward trend since the 1880’s in our temperature.  While many may dismiss this as an environmental shift or natural occurrence, almost all evidence points to the fact that we humans are having a direct impact on this warming, and are increasing its rate.  This also applies to all companies who are doing such actions as pollution.  At the moment, businesses are still doing more harm than good to our planet, and are not contributing as much as they need to be to fixing this trending temperature change.

 

Species

Effects of Electronic waste on climate and species are noticeable also. It is the process of discarding used electronics for reuse, recycling, or salvage. Electronic waste can range from cell phones to TV’s to computer parts. These electronic waste parts contain many toxic chemicals that can change different species of the environment. These toxic chemicals are known as lead, antimony, mercury, cadmium and nickel.

 

allee-with-eagle
http://www.baeyens-hauk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/allee-with-eagle.jpg
Lead, a toxic chemical to humans and other species of animals, is contained in most old electronic devices. Lead can move in and out of environmental ecosystems and can go into animal’s bloodstream. Ocean disposal of electronic waste can spread lead into the ocean and kill different aquatic organisms. If in the bloodstream, it can harm central nervous system and the ability to create red blood cells. The poison can eventually reach to the heart and kidneys, which may mean death to many animals. Different species of duck, birds, black swans, and geese have been reported with lead poisoning and will be reduced in population. Aquatic animals can receive lead poisoning through the transfer of lead in water and sediments, which can kill them.

 

Precipitation

 

The global average temperature is increasing and this will result in some impacts on the hydrological cycle, in addition to precipitation. In my research I have been able to gather some facts that shows the participation changes are different from region-to-region. Some areas are becoming wetter and others becoming dryer. In general most of the models have shown in high altitudes regions the precipitation will increase and it will decrease in most subtropical areas. Any changes in amount precipitation in regions will result in changes in rainfalls and water runoff. Shortage in them can cause serious concerns for resource managers and many communities.  Beside precipitation in liquid form, the snow, sleet, hail and even mist can be a scope to measure the wetness of a region. The soil wetness helps drive farming and agriculture in areas. Many communities rely on the reservoirs which they originally formed around. The world map below shows the trend in which we see the precipitation change in different regions and predicted % of decrease or increase in different regions of world.

Figure-3-5web

 

Along with global temperature increase, more water will evaporate into the atmosphere. The water vapor is categorized under Greenhouse gases. These gases will trap more of the heat from earth and keep them within the atmosphere.  This will be a cycling effect for temperatures to increase. Meteorologists will call this a positive feedback.

Projected_change_in_annual_average_precipitation_for_the_21st_century

 

Climatically Suitable Areas for Growing

 

Computers In the 21st century are becoming essential part of our daily life. From home, at work, or on the go, computers are quickly and constantly evolving. Computers have many benefit effects on lives, however, the production of these electronics also place a large strain on the environment.

 

Fac

 

The the manufacturing facilities of the production of computers are creating pollution in the environment due to computers requires a large amount of fossil fuels and chemicals. Although the fact that computers are continuing to decrease in size, computers still require 10 times their weight in chemicals and pollutants during manufacturing. The expel of these harmful chemical and pollution into the air created by computer production is harmful to the health of plant and animal species within close proximity which can cause destruction of endangered and limited habitats. The site of these facilities can cause habitat loss due to raw material demand or development on it. This would then cause disruption of habitat like the construction of pipelines that hinder the migration of animals. Wastes from producing of computers in these facilities also contribute to direct toxic effect on flora and fauna (e.g. pesticides) or that alter the functionality of an ecosystem in the surrounding environment. This is due to computers containing heavy metals like lead and other toxic chemicals that can pollute the soil and contaminate groundwater when they are dumped into landfills. Thus, production of computers causes contamination and destruction of climatically suitable areas for growing.
Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification is a phenomenon that will cause many problems in the atmosphere and the ocean’s ecosystem. As students that use technology throughout our daily lives contribute to the ocean’s acidification. Why? Our cellphones, computers, or laptops have a manufacturing process that outputs more C02 than a standard vehicle. The daily use of our electronic products require energy, which also influences fossil fuel burning. With globalization of technology, this whole process outputs massive amounts C02 that our ocean absorbs through the Ocean Atmosphere Exchange, which causes Ocean Acidification. Oceans can regulate their PH levels, but takes up to hundreds of years to reach equilibrium.

Depiction of processes operating at the air-sea interface and in the upper ocean mixed layer

 

Another factoring problem that contributes to Ocean Acidification and climate change is the electronic waste (E-Waste). According to EPA studies, only a small percentage of E-Waste is recycled thus being heavily incinerated or placed in landfills. Electronic Waste contains toxic chemicals that can seep into the ocean when it is incinerated. Once the toxic chemicals reach the ocean, it can lengthen the equilibrium of ocean’s acidity due to another chemical needing to be buffered out. Algae and other sea plants can be killed off by the Ocean’s Acidity and by the toxic chemicals from E-Waste, consequently causing climate change since the ocean and photosynthesis will have a lesser effect on taking in C02.

The dangers of Ocean Acidification is dangerous to anyone. This can also be scary for students who love to go to beaches or fishers. Spending a Spring Break only to be crashed by a giant dead whale would be awful. More importantly, fishing and eating a fish that is ill from the ocean’s acidity or containing toxic chemicals can cause a widespread illness.

 

Work Cited:

World of Change: Global Temperatures : Feature Articles. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php

Dalhman, L. (n.d.). Climate Change: Global Temperature | NOAA Climate.gov. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-temperature

Municipal Solid Waste 2011. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/MSWcharacterization_fnl_060713_2_rpt.pdf

Ocean Atmosphere Exchange : Ocean Observatories Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.whoi.edu/ooi_cgsn/page.do?pid=53278

Ocean Carbon Uptake. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean Carbon Uptake

Record Greenhouse Gas Levels Impact Atmosphere and Oceans. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_1002_en.html

Effects of lead on the environment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
THE IMPACT OF IMPROPER E-WASTE RECYCLING. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from

 

Maier, C. (2011, July 6). How Do Computers Pollute the Environment? Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://www.ehow.com/info_8699749_do-computers-pollute-environment.html