Judge rightly notes that “there’s a very real way in which data center providers can’t be held responsible for ths [sic]. Data centers are just meeting a demand.” Effectively, it’s consumers of the services that data centers provide who are driving the increasing energy consumption. But even if data centers are increasing their consumption hand over fist, noting the larger energy picture is critical.
As the Data Center Journal has observed time and again, total energy consumption in the U.S. has plateaued or even declined slightly since 2000, even despite the burgeoning data center industry.Economic factors may be driving this trend, but another factor may be that data centers are enabling consumer and business practices that are on balance less energy intensive than before. For example, teleconferencing likely consumes less energy than in-person meetings of people from different locations.
Judge rhetorically asked what could be done about growing data center energy consumption. Arguably, the best answer is nothing. World governments, with all their myriad rules and flimsy attempts at central economic planning, are teetering on the brink thanks to huge debts and stagnant economies suffering under the weight of heavy taxes and regulations. Before going after the data center industry, we should indeed do what Judge recommended: “let’s keep the big picture in mind this year.” That includes first determining why total energy consumption has leveled or declined in recent years.