Drowning in Oceans of Data

Gerry McGovern presents us with some facts to ponder regarding all this data we’re constantly accruing. He compares the amount of data we’re currently amassing to what its equivalent would be as paper in his post Data Expands to Fill the Space Available. I’ll cut right to the spoiler:

Let’s say an average tree produces 50 350-page books and that on each of those pages there are between 250 and 300 words. That gives us about 100,000 words per book or five million words per tree. I tested how many KB were used for saving 100,000 words in a couple of formats and got an average of 500 KB. Let’s throw some images and tables into the mix and bring the size up to 1 MB, which would mean that an average tree stores about 50 MB of data.

A zettabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000‬ MB or one quadrillion MB. If a zettabyte was printed out in 100,000-word books, with a few images thrown in, then we would have one quadrillion books. It would take 20,000,000,000,000 (twenty trillion) trees’ worth of paper to print these books. It is estimated that there are currently three trillion trees on the planet. To print a zettabyte of data would thus require almost seven times the number of trees that currently exist to be cut down and turned into paper.

It is estimated that by 2035 there will be 2,000 zettabytes of data in the world.

There’s been several articles published recently discussing the environmental impacts of large-scale data storage and/or ‘cloud’ based storage. Over at Mic, the article The Environmental Impact of Data Storage is More Than You Think has some interesting stats as well as links to other studies/articles:

As the number of data centers skyrocket, so does their impact on the environment. The Independent reported in 2016 that data centers will consume three times as much energy as they are currently using over the course of the next decade — and they already account for more terawatt hours of electricity used than all of the United Kingdom. A 2015 report found that data centers and their massive energy consumption are responsible for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, putting them on par with the aviation industry.

AJ Dellinger, Mic.com

I have been reading more ebooks lately, partly due to convenience, but also because, I guess, somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it made more sense environmentally and sustainably. Unfortunately, it would seem the decision isn’t as clean cut as one would hope and we may be in for a reckoning of sorts at some point. Whether it be physical or virtual – it would seem that the notion of ‘less is more’ still seems most prudent.

Ben Weaver at Beargrease 2020

Photo by Scott Haraldson from benweaver.net

My main man of the Wheels and the Woods, Ben Weaver sent out an email about his participation in the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this year. You can read more about the race on their website and highly recommend you read Ben’s full post on his.

Ben said something so well I wanted to share it with a larger audience:

The topic of climate change and social justice are right at the center my work, however I feel concern that many of the mainstream conversations around them are missing the point. They are rooted in “war thinking” and focus on calling out the “other.” They perpetuate blame and work against efforts to strengthen culture through diversity. This is not helping us imagine a new way of being in better relationship to all things living, human and non. Instead it is ensuring that the old way of being, where we relate through separation  continues to lead.

We all know there’s enough division and divide in the world today. Far as I can see there is no time for any more of that. I have all the time in the world for figuring out unique ways to bring people together. Music, dogs, bikes, winter, food and stories resonate as a good foundation to build up from.

This is where my heart sits. In the dog fur, lit up with tree love. 

The Overstory

Today’s Lunch Loop was a Library Run to return this book, The Overstory by Richard Powers. To be honest, I didn’t want to, I wanted to read it again. That doesn’t happen often. I wonder sometimes if one wants to re-read a book if it makes more sense to do it immediately or wait, and discover it again, only with a hint of familiarity, at a later time. My reading queue is currently backed up so this one will have to wait.

I can’t remember the last time a book affected me such as this one – fiction or otherwise. Powers is a master of the written word and the subject matter is of monumental weight, yet presented in a way not to be overbearing on the story. After finishing it I’m left feeling alternately exhilarated and helpless, still trying to process it all. I think the fact that this book and the discussion around it isn’t a bigger deal points to the fact that we’re still not ‘getting it’ as a species.

If this is on your to-read list, I suggest you bump it up several notches. If it wasn’t even on your radar, it should be – read it. If you’re saying, “meh, I don’t read so much anymore and the kinds of books I like to read aren’t really-“ stop. You probably need to read it the most.

Viking Oil

I am liking the way the Norwegians do business. From the article:

When the government tabled a new law that would boost taxes on oil profits to almost 80 percent, the stage was set for a showdown. According to Lie, “Companies were furious when they heard about the new taxation law. They started a media campaign saying that they would leave Norway and that it was impossible to work in a socialist country like this that does not understand the rules of international capitalism.”

After demanding a meeting with the Minister of Finance, oil executives around the room all pounded the table and threatened to abandon their concessions unless Norway backed down. The unfazed minister instead turned to his aides and said in full view of the enraged oilmen, “Why are they all still here? We should have taken more!”

That attitude, in a nutshell, is why the country now has more than $1 trillion in the bank. In spite of the usual industry fear mongering, the new tax law easily passed Norwegian parliament and has been supported by every government since 1975.

…and…

What can the world learn from the oil Vikings? Obviously good policies and strong institutions matter, but perhaps most important is the fierce sense of place to back it up. In a fragmented natural world, that strong connection to the land increasingly resides with indigenous peoples and cultures. Unsurprisingly, indigenous people are also disproportionately the ones confronting extractive capitalism around the world.

The United Nations just released a global report on biodiversity showing that areas with some form of indigenous governance—amounting to a whopping one-quarterof the world’s land base—have significantly better protection of ecosystems. Culture, connection and protection seem to naturally flow from continuous occupation. The report calls for governments to support indigenous involvement in conservation efforts as a key part of helping to “transform the public and private sectors to achieve sustainability at the local, national and global levels.”