IT Week Letters, reader comments and views from articles read from the magazine or online

Time for world to go out with a bang

Cern’s Large Hadron Collider plans might explain why we haven’t contacted any alien life out there (Is Cern about to wipe out life on Earth, 5 May). Maybe that’s just the way of the universe, blowing ourselves up. Technology has already messed up this planet beyond repair, so why not end it all today instead of dragging this slow death out.


May 12, 2008 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top tips for saving energy

There are a number of simple steps that organisations should take to reduce energy used as a result of datacentre activity (The great offsetting debate, 17 September).

Although not a new concept in the datacentre world, taking a “lights out” approach is not only a by-product of remote management capabilities but will significantly reduce energy used and in turn carbon emissions produced.

Overheating and cooling of equipment in the datacentre is still a key concern for businesses. One way to regulate the temperature and get the most out of air-conditioning systems is to keep the doors closed. Having staff walk in and out of the datacentre will require the air-conditioning to work faster and therefore use more power to stop equipment overheating.

With the arrival of the mega datacentre and the expected rise in capacity and energy needs of big business, looking at putting in place a more efficient IT infrastructure and making changes to wider business processes will all help towards reducing the amount of energy used.

Russell Stevens, Avocent

October 8, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

CarbonNeutral projects vital

It is incorrect to say that “several projects” in which the CarbonNeutral Company invests were shown not to need our money during a Dispatches television programme (The great offsetting debate, 17 September). Only one of our projects featured in the programme and it was clearly stated during the broadcast that our carbon offset money was necessary.

The CarbonNeutral Company has been operating for 10 years and has extremely stringent standards. We work to the CarbonNeutral Protocol, a public and independently reviewed standard.

The practice of carbon offsetting is highly charged, with many passionate people both in favour and against it. Scientists advise that we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 80 per cent by 2050. It is clear that regulation alone will not achieve this, which is why we believe carbon offsetting has a vital role to play.

Sue Welland, The CarbonNeutral Company

October 1, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Printers may pose a risk

Mike Dinsdale of Brother UK missed the point when he said there might be concern about the fine particles getting into skin pores and into the nose (Jury still out on laser printer pollution, 3 September).

The problem with ultrafine particles, those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, is they will get into the lungs where they can cause premature death. These potentially harmful fine particles are referred to by the US Environmental Protection Agency and other national environmental programmes as PM2.5. While it is not likely that the particles from one printer will adversely affect health, those particles, along with particles currently in the air or soon to be emitted into the air, combine to adversely affect human health, especially in the young and elderly.

As a retired air pollution agency executive officer, I believe this issue needs to be studied further to determine the concentrations workers are being subjected to.

Richard Baldwin

September 18, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wi-Fi critics are cooking up a health scare

Dave Bailey’s article on the health risks of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi health risks are clouded by static, 14 May) highlighted a major psychological aspect of the debate - the word “microwave” is loaded through its association with an unnatural kitchen device that can burn your dinner without the plate getting hot.

People are aware of warnings about keeping microwave oven doors sealed: these ovens and their radiation are clearly highly dangerous! Campaigners against Wi-Fi play on this. However, microwave ovens don’t actually have to work at 2.45GHz, they simply commonly do so because licence-free spectrum is available worldwide and because it’s easy and cheap to mass produce components at this frequency. Microwave ovens could work anywhere between about 1GHz and 5GHz, maybe higher.

The old hospital treatment known as diathermy, which employed deep tissue heating, operated at 27MHz. Crumbs, didn’t they use that for CB radio too?

I was taught that microwaves begin at 1GHz but US sources seem to prefer the VHF/UHF boundary at 300MHz. Nothing special happens at either point, and the word itself just means “tiny waves” - which they are, in the context of radio broadcasting. Compared with infrared or light waves, they’re enormous. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Martin Nicholson

May 21, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

The climate change debate is far from over

In your BusinessGreen blog you dismiss the idea that cosmic rays might be a prime contributor to global warming (Why the climate change debate doesn’t matter anymore, 14 February). Your argument is that the 90 percent certainty in a man-made origin, expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rendered any other theory irrelevant.

I have searched in vain for any direct evidence supporting the greenhouse idea. The latest report of the IPCC is particularly disappointing. While giving the opposite impression, it does not claim any evidence of a direct causal connection between carbon emissions and global warming.

Nevertheless, the conclusion that it is now 90 percent certain that human activity causes global warming is often attributed to the IPCC. I can find no mention of that figure, and wonder where on earth it could come from. There is absolutely no methodology offered or calculations shown to justify this level of confidence.

The science of meteorology is undergoing a dark age and those scientists who retain open minds deserve all the support we can give them.

John Gibbs

May 14, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bring back the watermill

Gerry Wolff’s letter about the benefits of concentrated solar power proposes an interesting potential solution to the problems of electricity generation (UK must assess CSP’s potential, 16 March). However, I wonder if any thought has been given to a different solution: small-scale hydroelectric power. In pre-industrial times the UK was peppered with watermills. Indeed, one tiny stream close to my own home is reputed to have powered 24 such mills. I wonder what the total capacity could have been if the waterwheels had turned generators instead of millstones.

If mills were to be re-established today using traditional local materials, it would enhance the landscape. Re-established mill ponds would have substantial benefits for wildlife and bio-diversity as well as providing amenity value, possibly

supporting outdoor leisure activities. The electricity transmission infrastructure would need a much smaller scale of investment and there would therefore be less total impact on the environment. The pools could, potentially, help alleviate flooding.

A similar approach could be taken to wind generation. I am sure that there would be far less objection to traditional windmills than modern wind farms.

David Dewick

April 2, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

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