Friday, September 28, 2012

Seminar Mon Oct 1: "Democracy, Development and Ecology"

This is info about an upcoming seminar (on Monday!) that overlaps with the course and might be of interest to you.



the next higher seminar at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH will be held on Monday, October 1, 13:15-14:45.

Our guest will be Mahesh Rangarajan, Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and Professor at the Department of History, University of Delhi. He will speak about "Democracy, Development and Ecology: Dilemmas and Choices in 21st Century India".


The economic rise of Asia, especially though not exclusively of China and India is widely seen as a major feature of the coming century. At the same time, economic expansion and technological transformation opens up new possibilities for human self advancement, it imposes new burdens on resources and new strains on the fabric of life. The scale and scope of the remaking of landscapes and waterscapes as currently under way often entails the obliteration of ecosystems, species and habitats.

In the Indian case, there is special interest as it is a constitutional democracy of 60 years standing with a free press and labour unions, an independent judiciary and a vigorous public sphere of debate. Environmental issues are often not only about rare species and habitats but about human displacement and despoliation of rivers, the clash of industry and water and land based livelihoods. How there can be peaceable ways to move ahead is a major challenge. The last two decades have seen a deepening of democracy but the quickening of the growth process has also deepened conflicts over forests, land, living spaces and water.

Whether or not there can be more harmonious ways of achieving a better quality of life while keeping the natural cycles of renewal and repair intact is a major challenge. One meta shift in the new century is that environmental issues, from global warming to water shortages, from the death of species to displacement have come to the centre stage of public life. How these are made subject of effective action poses more than mere scientific or technical challenge. It will call for a re-engagement with our pasts as we try to comprehend better, more humane and effective ways to shape the future.

The seminar will take place at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH main  campus, Brinellvägen 32, 11428 Stockholm. The seminar room is located on the top floor.


Sabine Höhler and Maja Fjaestad

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Carbon Footprint of the Internet

Working as a postman the past two summers I come across messages like the one quite often, the sign say(roughly translated) “No advertising please, save the nature”. When delivering mail and advertisement I do my best to obey these signs, and the swedish postal-service also keeps a record of how many signs there are to not produce unnecessary amounts of printed ads that are never delivered, the signs thus have an effect. 

But that is regular mail. How about email? of course there’s a lot less resources consumed when sending an email compared to sending out printed add, but that doesn’t mean that there’s none at all. I had a conversation with a friend of mine on this topic some time ago. He was annoyed of people sending replies to emails received through email-lists saying “please take me of this list, I don’t want these emails” when its such a small task marking them as junk-email and never have to bother again, the only reason to send such a reply would be to save the energy consumed when the emails are sent, and that’s such a small amount that it’s not worth bothering, or is it? 

What do we really pay for when we pay for our broadband connection. I’m assuming that administration and infrastructure would be a big chunk of it, but some of it has to be for energy.

According to some calculations found here <> the amount of energy consumed when viewing a pretty standard webpage, wikipedia for example, is about 11.5 joules. If we make the rough approximation that sending an email consumes the same amount of energy as viewing a webpage, and the normal mailing list sends about one email per day. It’s important to note that these calculations only include the energy needed to transport the packets over the net, not the power needed to keep your computer running. According to this blog post <> the amount of energy saved from unplugging your cellphone charger for 24h instead of leaving it plugged in is about 0.0066kwh, wich is 6.6wh(of course). The amount saved from not sending an email is 11.5 Joules(ws) wich would be approximately 0.03wh, so it’s smaller. But the thing is that while you usually only have one cellphone charger, and you can’t unplug it for more than 24h a day(and most of the time less than that since you need to charge your phone), the amounts of emails we receive is scalable. What’s even more scalable is the amount of data requests we send in total, including all the cat videos we watch on youtube :)

I thought this would be interesting to test, and decided to create a carbon footprint calculator for the network card in my computer. This calculator builds on the estimates found on the energyzarr webpage cited above, where an estimate for how much energy needed for transporting 1 bit was 4.6 x 10^-6 joules. This the gives the energy for one byte as 0.0000368 joules/byte (4.6 x 10^-6 x 8). I’m no expert in energy calculations, but I believe that 1 joule could be seen as 1 Ws for practical reasons in my calculations. This would the give me 1.022222.... x 10^-7 Wh/byte.

I also found some carbon footprint estimates here: <> saying that the carboon footprint of 1kwh is 1.37 lbs, which gives me 669.53377 g/KWh. I then get my final calculation needed to construct my carbon footprint calculator, where the footprint of one byte is: 1.0222222... x 10^-7 x 0.66853377 g(CO2)/byte.

These calculations are of course really rough, and based on the packets being sent via TCP, which is not the case when watching funny cats. But I still thought it was an eyeopener for me, and made me think about if I really need to watch that video, or update my facebook page every three minutes.
Heres the code needed to build the co2calculator in python(only works in osx):
#Gustav Rannestig 2012-09-20
import commands
import time

#Only works on OSX, for ubuntu the command needs to be rewritten in some clever way :)
Ibytes = commands.getstatusoutput("netstat -ib | grep -m 1 en1 | awk '{print $7}'")
InitialIBytes = Ibytes[1]

Obytes = commands.getstatusoutput("netstat -ib | grep -m 1 en1 | awk '{print $10}'")
InitialOBytes = Obytes[1]
BiteCount = 0
Co2Eq = 0

while True:
    Ibytes = commands.getstatusoutput("netstat -ib | grep -m 1 en1 | awk '{print $7}'")
    Obytes = commands.getstatusoutput("netstat -ib | grep -m 1 en1 | awk '{print $10}'")
    ByteCount = ((int(Ibytes[1]) - int(InitialIBytes)) + (int(Obytes[1]) -int(InitialOBytes)))
    InitialIBytes = Ibytes[1]
    InitialOBytes = Obytes[1]
    Co2Eq = Co2Eq + (1.02*(10**(-7))*0.6695377)*ByteCount
    print "Your Co2eq is" + str(Co2Eq) + " g of Co2"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sustainable Data Warehouse

Yesterday at the lecture we heard that transportation was a big part of the total energy consumption in a media company. Besides from that, electricity was also a big part of the energy beeing used. Depending on the the company, the use of electricity might be different and I assume that consumtion of electricity in computer related companies are relatively high.

One way to not consume "bad", non-renewable energy for electricity is to do what Apple are planning on doing for one of thier data warehouses. They are setting up solar panels that will generate energy worth 60 percent of their total consumption for the data warehouse. I think this is a good initiative since data warehouses generally consume a lot of electricity, and solving it in this way seems much more sustainable.

Though, I see one problem with other companies following this initiative and that is that these solar panels take up a lot of space and this is just for one Apple data warehouse. And also that the energy generated from these solar panels could instead be genereting electricity for 10 874 homes. That makes you understand how big of an energy consumer these data warehouses are, and this one is just one of Apples.

This is a sustainable way of running a data warehouse, but when seeing this I am starting to question how sustainable data warehouses are in general and that the continuing growth of these pose a problem for ICT in relation to sustainability.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Topics for blog posts

I haven't had enough time to comment your blog posts here lately, but please don't let that refrain you from posting stuff.

Based on the seminars we had earlier today, it seemed the lecture by Nate Hagens yesterday made an impression on many of you - that (or any other lecture) thus seems like a suitable topic for a blog post (or several, covering different aspects of the talk). The same of course also goes for Hagen's texts, the text for today's seminar or any other text we have read in the course.

Another great topic could be your thoughts going in to the seminar earlier today - for example based on you seminar question. Some of your questions were great but we didn't have time to discuss them all and naturally people in other seminar groups don't know anything about your question.

Beyond the question, the seminar discussions and your thoughts at of following the seminar could be yet another suitable topic for blog posts here.


Food waste

I found a great TED talk by Tristram Stuart that bring up our ways of consuming and wasting food. In the video he expose how much the developed world throw away and what this leads to. One thing he brings up which I found very interesting is that we from 2001 can not feed our livestock with our own food and the result of this is that we "cook" food for them and much of the ingredients comes from south america. To produce these ingredients they cut down a lot of rain-forest to gain access to rich land. So when complaining on companies cutting down rain-forest we mostly got ourselves to blame.

I think this could be an interesting subject that could be developed into a seminar maybe next year.

Friday, September 7, 2012

In a course on design given by the school of architectural design here at KTH  one of the concepts we  as students got in touch with was (A theory of fun). It's about fun ways to how we can be more sustainable adopting a more fun way doing it. This one is an example about ecological sustainability:

Another thing is the "walk-panels" made by the japanese engineer Kohei Hayamizu. I belive it connects with the thought of the eco-gym and personally I belive Hayamizus idea is great:

What do you think?

I will also get back on the reply on my previous post when I've got the time to formulate a good answer.


I think a big reason why many people do not choose to be environmentally friendly is because it in many cases costs more than the non-environmentally friendly option.
A few years ago I read an article about "Eco-gym" in Metro that showed numbers of how many households a hall with 20 spinning bikes could generate electricity to if the bikes where used extensively for a year. Unfortunately I do not remember the exact numbers but after Googling ”Eco-gym”, I came across an article about a gym in Portland, USA, whose ambition is to be completely self-sufficient when it comes to electricity. When the article was written, in 2010, the owner said that the 200 members who trained at the gym did not generate enough electricity for the 280 sq. m large facility to be carbon-neutral, but if all the training equipment would be used at the same time, it could generate twice as much electricity as the facility needs.

The gym in the article is not the first Eco-gym in the world but it still raises my attention because this business concept creates an opportunity to reduce the price range if the equipment manages to generate as much electricity as is needs. Because that would mean that the electricity costs would disappear. I think the idea is very good because it does not require more effort for an individual to work out in a eco-gym than in a regular gym. It could even result in, that you would pay less for the eco-gym.

However, the purchase cost of these machines is probably higher than the non-electricity-generating equipment and therefore this business concept involves higher initial costs.

The bottom line of this blog post is that I think it is important for entrepreneurs to develop a business concept where people contribute to sustainable development even though they do not change their lifestyle because many people today are not willing to change their way of living.,8599,2032281,00.html

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Återanvändning av företagsdatorer

Upphandling av IT står för en betydande ekonomisk andel för en kommun. Samtidig utgör IT-produkterna en risk att bryta mot mänskliga rättigheter i bland annat produktionen. Miljöaspekterna i återvinningsfasen bör också tas in i rikssammanhanget. Eftersom att IT-produkter är en stor ekonomisk post och ett område där det finns stora förbättringsmöjligheter utifrån miljö- och social hänsyn, vill vi se miljömål med hållbarhetskrav på inköp av IT-produkter, säger Gabriella Blomgren, marknadschef TCO Development.

Företaget som köper upp äldre använda datorer heter Inrego och börjar prata efter ca halva klippet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Global Footprint Network - Calculate your personal footprint

In one of the text we are supposed to read for the seminar the author mentions "Global Footprint Network". I looked it up online and found out that you can gather a lot of interesting information about different types of footprints we leave after us. You can look up footprints based on countries, cities, businesses etc. Sweden actually isn't in as bad trouble as a lot of other countries according to their information, which is encouraging for Swedes. But overall you can see that it's not looking good for a lot of countries.

They also have a footprint calculator where you can calculate your own personal footprint. Unfortunatly you can't do the calculations for Sweden, but you can still choose other countries and see what your footprint would have been if you lived there. It's pretty basic and you should take it with a grain of salt, but it is still fun (or disturbing) to see how big of an ecological footprint you leave behind.

Link to the calculator:

Link to the homepage:

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Clean" energy

First watch this video:

Today I came across this video showing off BioLites new product called Camp Stove. In the video, the product is said to give you access to clean energy. Now, even though I am quite impressed by this product, I am having a hard time seeing how burning wood equals clean energy.

It's funny, because at first I did not even think about weather this product actually is eco-friendly or not: I subconsciously thought that it must be! But then, because of this course, I started thinking about it, and my conclusion is that I do not want to live in a world where everyone charges their cellphones by using Camp Stove.

I guess that this video goes to show just how easy it is for us to get tricked into thinking that a product is eco-friendly. Everyone on Youtube seem to love it, which actually says quite a lot about peoples feeling towards eco-friendy products.