Top 11 Stories of 2013 on Powering the Internet With Renewables
By David Pomerantz
2013 has been a whirlwind of exciting developments for the growing idea that the Internet should be powered with clean energy, and it couldn’t happen at a better time.
As access spreads around the world and people watch more streaming videos and share more photos, the Internet has the potential to become either a big cause of global warming pollution, or a driver of the clean energy transition we need, depending on what the companies behind it decide to do.
Here are our top 11 stories about the Green Internet in 2013:
Apple released an environmental report in March showing that it had made real progress in its effort to power the iCloud with renewable energy, and not coal. Apple had already committed to 100 percent renewable energy for its data centers, but this report disclosed how Apple plans to do it, allowing customers to have faith that Apple is meeting its ambitions with real action.
Salesforce became the latest company to commit to powering its cloud with 100 percent clean energy in March. The company’s rapid growth means that it will need more data centers soon to store its clients’ data, which is why it’s so important that Salesforce has committed to grow using renewable energy.
Apple announced in July it would be building a solar array to power its data center near Reno, NV. Apple is using an advanced technology that includes mirrors to concentrate sunlight, and the deal was also the first that took advantage of utility NV Energy’s “Green Rate tariff” in Nevada, which allows any customer to buy explicitly renewable energy.
Rackspace, the Texas-based tech company who offers data services to a range of businesses, committed to a goal of powering its data centers with 100 percent clean energy in February. The company’s sustainability director described why they’ve set the ambitious goal at a Greenpeace forum in November, saying: “Our customers simply expect green energy.”
The competition among Internet companies to power their operations with clean energy gained a new entrant in November. Microsoft announced that it would take a page from the book of its chief competitor, Google, when it announced that it will purchase wind energy in Texas to power its data center there, marking its first ever large-scale purchase of renewable energy.
Box became the sixth and latest company to join the growing club of global technology firms who have committed to powering their cloud computing operations with 100 percent renewable energy. Box houses its customers’ data in rented co-location facilities, and its new policy shows that all cloud computing companies can make the smart decision of moving toward renewable energy, whether they own their own data centers or not.
If you own an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, Apple made an announcement in November that should make you feel pretty great: at least some part of your Apple products will soon be built using clean, renewable solar and geothermal energy. Apple announced that it will start building high-tech glass for its products in Arizona, at a facility that will be 100 percent powered by solar and geothermal energy.
Facebook announced in November that it will use 100 percent wind energy to power its data center in Iowa. In 2012, having heard from hundreds of thousands of its fans as part of Greenpeace’s Unfriend Coal campaign, Facebook committed to a goal of powering all of its data centers with 100 percent clean energy. It’s now building two 100-percent renewable data centers, in Iowa and Sweden, and is working with its utility in North Carolina to increase the amount of clean energy available for its data center there too.
Despite all the good news stories here about Google and Facebook powering with clean energy—and pressuring their electric utilities to do the same—we learned in 2013 that the companies both joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful corporate “bill mill.” ALEC offers corporations the chance to ghostwrite bills for state legislators, and has led a charge around the country in the past year to attack successful clean energy laws. Google and Facebook say they’re ALEC members for other, non-energy related reasons, but they shouldn’t be lending their good name or their money to a group that is undermining all the good they’ve done.
If you want to watch the new clean energy economy shake off the weight of the old polluting one, North Carolina provided a good glimpse into how that transition is unfolding in real time. Apple, Facebook and Google teamed up to compel their electric utility in North Carolina, Duke Energy, one of the nation’s biggest emitters of global warming pollution, to offer a new breakthrough renewable energy program in November.
Despite all the good news above, the company that may power more of the Internet than anyone, Amazon, remained addicted to coal. Amazon stores the data for some of the biggest Internet services in the world, including Netflix, Yelp, Pinterest and others. So its refusal to budge leaves a dark cloud over the otherwise increasingly sunny future of how the Internet will be powered. Tell Amazon to get on the clean energy bandwagon here, and look for more ways in 2014 that you can tell Amazon and its customers to power their wonderful services with equally wonderful energy from the wind and sun.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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