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Already, data centres have mushroomed from virtually nothing 10 years ago to consuming about 3 per cent of the global electricity supply and accounting for about 2 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
That gives it the same carbon footprint as the airline industry.
It’s films, pornography, gambling, dating, shopping – anything that involves images.
It’s a great example of the Jevons paradox – the easier you make it to consume the product the greater the consumption will be.” Unless there is some kind of game-changing breakthrough on data storage – such as the development of a far-superior alternative to silicon – the world’s internet use is eventually going to have to be significantly rationed.
This could be through some kind of tax or charge on data use – for example, imposing a fee for uploading photographs on to Facebook – or even a straightforward rationing of activity; but he acknowledges that these kind of moves would probably be “political suicide”.