Sustainable Computing and Telecom Can Contribute to Limiting Global Climatic Disruption

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Wed Jul 28 15:30:00 EDT 2010

The Copenhagen Summit concluded that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced in the coming decade if we are to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (the Earth has warmed ~0.8 degrees C since pre-industrial times).

The International Energy Agency has shown what a radical challenge such a reduction will be for the global energy sector, but any solution requires increasing energy efficiency in electrical devices. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry's Smart 2020 study reveals that the ICT industry produces ~2-3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the ICT sector's emissions will nearly triple, in a business-as-usual scenario, from 2002 to 2020. On the other hand, the Climate Group estimates that transformative applications of ICT to electricity grids, logistic chains, intelligent transportation and building infrastructure, and other social systems can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 percent- five times ICT's own footprint!

I will give results on several affiliated projects with  Calit2 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology) are aimed at increasing ICT energy efficiency, including for individual PCs, from the NSF-funded GreenLight Project (, deployed at UCSD, which creates an instrumented data center, to cellular base stations. At a higher level, we are using the two Calit2 university campuses (UC San Diego and UC Irvine) themselves as at-scale Green IT testbeds. Campuses are functionally small towns with their own power grids, commuter transportation systems, hospitals, and populations in the tens of thousands. Calit2 is working with campus administration, faculty and staff to instrument these campuses as Living Laboratories of the Greener Future.



Larry Smarr

Larry Smarr is the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership, and holds the Harry E. Gruber professorship in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UCSD’s Jacobs School. At Calit2, Smarr has continued to drive major developments in information infrastructure -- including the Internet, Web, scientific visualization, virtual reality, and global telepresence -- begun during his previous 15 years as founding Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Smarr served as principal investigator on NSF’s OptIPuter project and currently is principal investigator of the Moore Foundation’s CAMERA project and co-principal investigator on NSF’s GreenLight project. In October 2008 he was the Leadership Dialog Scholar in Australia.

Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, Jacobs School of Engineering, UCSD; Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology