Our uptake of new technologies and electronics comes at a cost: information and communications technology (ICT) consumes about 8% of global electricity, doubling every decade. A massive amount of energy is consumed in the thousands of factory-sized data centres that house “the cloud,” as well as computer systems for telecommunication and storage. Most of the energy consumed in data centres, computers and other devices is dissipated as heat rather than being used to power the device itself, meaning that much of it is wasted. ICT is now on par with the aviation industry for their contribution to global warming, and it’s time for a change.
Imagine sweltering through four days of 40°C – 50°C temperatures. Or not being able to get home because flooding has disrupted rail and road networks. With the changing global climate, such scenarios are possible within the next 20 years. The question is: will Victoria be resilient to these challenges? This is the problem senior government officials and researchers gathered together to answer. RSV’s inaugural Future Thinking Forum saw representatives from over 35 agencies, including universities and government, meet to discuss Victoria’s capacity to cope with extreme weather. The proceedings began with the description of two possible extreme weather scenarios: a severe heatwave and an extreme flooding and wind event. These scenarios were not one of a distant future, nor were they from a dystopian, Eco-Disaster novel. They could be Victoria’s reality within the next two decades.
This Independent Review provides a blueprint for introducing security, reliability and emission abatement into a policy area that has been recognised Australia-wide as lacking national direction. The panel has worked hard to provide a means of breaking an entrenched political deadlock which has reduced investment and stifled development in this country, despite our significant sources of renewable energy.
The RSV’s Executive commends the leadership of the Chief Scientist in the development and delivery of this Independent Review and the dissemination of its findings.
Warmest congratulations to Dr Samintha Perera, this year’s winner of the Phillip Law Postdoctoral Prize for the Physical Sciences!