Heat, Power and Web 2.0

This summer has been a scorcher across the world. Here in Minnesota it’s been in the 90’s consistently and the drought is horrendous. I haven’t seen it this bad in my lifetime. In fact, the Earth’s temperature for the first six months of the year was the second-warmest ever recorded.

Yesterday’s power outage in San Francisco — which knocked out several high profile Web 2.0 sites as well as this blog for hours since it brought down Six Apart, Typepad’s owner — may be indicative of what we should brace ourselves for going forward.

How are these two related?

There is an increasing demand for power at the same time global weather patterns are changing. In the same way that the desert Southwest of the United States and other oppressively hot regions in the world have been settled in no small way due to air conditioning, the demands on our crumbling power grid (via GigaOM) are increasing. Burgeoning information technology services, an acceleration in building with air conditioning to cool our sweltering bodies (though that has slowed recently), are all rising concurrently with a global growth in population which alone will drive demand for power.

My bride and I are enamored with Scottsdale and have been seriously considering a second home there. We’re second-guessing that decision when I analyze water issues there, consider those issues within the context of global warming, and continue to scratch my head over how a growing desert Southwest can possibly support an exploding population with water (this article at CNet about sums up what I’ve experienced and am thinking through).

For our 8th Annual Dad & Son Adventure this summer, my son and I both wanted to go to Lake Winnipeg to explore, to fish, to swim and just goof around in Canada. It’s in the 90’s in Winnipeg this week and
then I read several articles, including this one, about algae growth in Lake Winnipeg and swimming isn’t recommended (more here). So it’s not just the glaciers melting that are the most visible sign of global warming, I’m seeing it everywhere.

The creek by our lake is nearly bone dry. Grass everywhere is brown. Anecdotally, I talk with people all over the world (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan) and throughout North America in all regions, and everyone I talk with is seeing the same signs of warming causing aberrant changes in their plants, at parks and how they’re seeing stuff like water levels drop in lakes and rivers.

The other anecdotal problem connected to power are the number of brownouts and outages I and the people I talk with have experienced. They’ve just slightly increased so not profoundly disruptive just yet, but the trend line of increased outages seems to be growing. I’d be interested in what you’re seeing and experiencing as well as any data you might have pointing to power outage increases.

As we all become more dependent upon the Internet for hosted application services, what happens when outages increase? When costs of electricity rise to keep pace with demand? Or when mission critical services shut down?

By the way, I must admit being puzzled that these services didn’t have redundant fail-over locations in other parts of the country. Forget power outages, what the hell happens when a 7 on the Richter scale earthquake hits? Are we all screwed if using hosted Web 2.0 services in the Bay Area?


  1. JeremyS on July 25, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    I couldn’t recommend an investment in the Phoenix area anymore. I grew up in Mesa, went to school at ASU, and lived and worked in Chandler. It’s a great area in many respects (and a buyer’s market in real estate right now, for better or worse), but I think drastic changes are needed. I left early last year, and the water issue you mentioned is a big elephant in the room. It’s not discussed in the local media or politics AT ALL. It’s amazing. Besides that, the area has amongst the worst air quality in the nation – http://realestate.yahoo.com/Neighborhoods/detail.html?sa=&csz=scottsdale%2C+az&submit=Submit – and you can always see the famous “brown cloud,” especially in winter. But again, it’s not talked about. So if you care about such things, keep this in mind….

  2. Zoli's Blog on July 25, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Web 2.0 Blackout

    A power outage in San Francisco has just wiped out the creme of the Web: craigslist, technorati, typepad, and I dont know what other services are all down. Update: Netflix is down, too. (hat tip: TechCrunch)

    Our power is down. …

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.