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Move to a Mainframe, Earn Carbon Credits

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the trade-and-process-process-and-trade dept.

Power 316

BBCWatcher writes "As Slashdot reported previously, Congress is pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop energy efficiency measures for data centers, especially servers. But IBM is impatient: Computerworld notes IBM has signed up Neuwing Energy Ventures, a company trading in energy efficiency certificates, in a first for "green" computing. Now if your company consolidates, say, X86 servers onto an IBM mainframe on top of slashing about 85% off your electric bill each megawatt-hour saved earns one certificate. Then you can sell the certificates in emerging carbon trading markets. IBM's own consolidation project (collapsing 3,900 distributed servers onto 30 mainframes) will net certificates worth between $300K and $1M, depending on carbon's market price. Will ubiquitous carbon trading discourage energy-inefficient, distributed-style infrastructure in favor of highly virtualized and I/O-savvy environments, particularly mainframes?"

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316 comments

Full Circle? (4, Interesting)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238731)

I do find it ironic that computing started out with large mainframes, and now it seems more and more likely that the majority of computing needs in the future will be met by terminals connected to mainframes via virtualization.

Re:Full Circle? (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238769)

You have obviously never watched any science fiction movies, television shows, or LARP sessions. You must have also missed the entire genre of sci-fi fiction that always assumed that the future would be in the form of gigantic databases which controlled every aspect of life.

I think Vonnegut said it best, "I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled "Science Fiction" ... and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."

Re:Full Circle? (2, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238805)

But the difference is that now everybody gets their own little sandbox.
It's not full circle, it's a combination. A large playground with a sandbox for each kid.

Re:Full Circle? (4, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239793)

People had their own little sandbox in the old days too. If you were paying large sums for an account on a timesharing system, you'd want to be sure that some idiot wasn't chewing all your CPU time or memory. And you certainly wouldn't want other people having access to your files. Hence the elaborate systems to virtualize and isolate each instance, and quota out system resources fairly.

Please remember that in computing, nothing new has been invented since 1970.

Re:Full Circle? (2, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238847)

I do find it ironic that computing started out with large mainframes, and now it seems more and more likely that the majority of computing needs in the future will be met by terminals connected to mainframes via virtualization.
Keep in mind that your cellphone will has more power than most of the mainframes used to and the terminals will have far more power beyond that.

It's a change in terminology, not in behavior. It's not that terminals are connected to mainframes, it's that everyone has their own mainframe and the personal mainframes are connected to mega-super-duper mainframes.

Which, in twenty years, will fit on your watch.

Re:Full Circle? (2, Interesting)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239279)

If you judge "power" by an arithmetic test of the CPU and by memory size, probably.

But even the old mainframes were build to sustain stress in multiuser environments where your cellphone and even your modern PC would collapse.

Re:Full Circle? (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239475)

Stress in multiuser environments? Are you serious?

Cell phones have to deal with interference from thousands of other cell phones while moving between base stations without dropping encrypted packets of data where even a slight delay is noticeable to the user.

Call waiting, conference calls, video calling etc. are all tasks that a mainframe would have struggled with.

Re:Full Circle? (2, Informative)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239519)

I think by stress in multiuser environments, he meant having 600,000 simultaneous connections running through your processor simultaneously. No, your little cellphone/pda combo are NOT the equivalent of a mainframe. Maybe the equivalent of one little front-end I/O processor connected to the mainframe.

People get this idea that raw number crunching is all that mainframes do. It's the massive I/O backplane, people....

Re:Full Circle? (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239707)

Sure there are certain loads that mainframes were better at but the I/O that cellphones could be dealing with rivals the I/O for (some of the) mainframes with the processing power of a cellphone.

Yes, there's specialisation but many old mainframes wouldn't have had the processing power, the memory or the I/O to handle simultaneous video conferencing while talking to different base stations.

Modern mainframes are better at I/O but that wasn't really in dispute. The point was that their lower energy usage might allow further savings.

Actually, it started out more like a PC (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238931)

Assuming that you mean the electronic computers, we are talking about The ENIAC. It handled 1 problem at a time, was a pain to work with, and was inefficient. That is more akin to the PC, than a mainframe. Mainframes handle loads of ppl/problems.

Re:Actually, it started out more like a PC (0)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239081)

True, but the PC first came into "mainstream" use with the corporate mainframes in the 50s and 60s I believe.

Re:Full Circle? (5, Funny)

asliarun (636603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239125)

and now it seems more and more likely that the majority of computing needs in the future will be met by terminals connected to mainframes via virtualization.
That is indeed Big Irony.

Carbon credits = lame (5, Interesting)

Z80xxc! (1111479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238741)

The whole concept of "carbon neutral" and off-setting your carbon emissions for whatever reason seams kind of lame to me. Instead of continuing to do things that cause global warming while doing other things to supposedly reduce your "carbon footprint", why not just try to eliminate or reduce the problems in the first place? It's not just individuals, it's the whole mindset of society. Instead of going for carbon-neutral server farms, why not develop cleaner alternative electricity options to power those server farms? Solar power could do a lot, but we'd rather earn carbon certificates. It just doesn't make sense.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1, Insightful)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238757)

Humanity doesn't have enough resources to work on both at once? We're not going to solve our energy problem from one source. It's going to take many different types of alternative sources to offset our dependence on fossil fuels.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1, Flamebait)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238767)

My understanding is that this is the eventual aim, the price of carbon credits increases as time goes by, so gradually the solutions to the problems seem more cost-effective than buying carbon credits. Companies who lead the way get credits to sell. Power your mainframe with solar power and you'll win twice!

If it works in the USA where nothing benefiting the environment works then it has to be good...

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238861)

If it works in the USA where nothing benefiting the environment works then it has to be good...
That has to be the most uninformed and short sighted comment I have ever seen. There are plenty of things in the US working that _IS_ good for the environment.

Or are you just talking about "global Warming"? Even then the push for electric cars, hybrids, alternative energy and so on seems to be good for the environment to some degree.

Of course programs like the hazardous material superfund and such that clean up toxic waist from generations removed are good for the environment too. And then there is the wetlands restoration projects where the guberment is buying up large lots of developed and otherwise exploited lands and turning them back into watersheds and wildlife habitats. Or the more recent oceanic conservations project from 2006 [msn.com] that has been called "the single-largest act of ocean conservation in history."

Well maybe you should expand on that comment before I go off on a tangent. It isn't exactly waist land 10 miles outside every city. The US has a pretty good track record on the environment and has been making improvements since the 70's when everyone else started waking up to the effects of some of the old ways of doing things. We have tough laws to keep the environment in good condition and we have on ongoing efforts to toughen those laws and make it better. Including the attempts to get this credit BS going.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238923)

Hmm... that's what I get for rushing to finish the comment before I leave home. People in the USA tend to drive massive, fuel-hungry cars and fly planes a lot, which looks bad. Also, the USA didn't sign up to Kyoto. My last remark in that comment was based on my immediate perception of the USA from Europe, sorry.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Informative)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239069)

My last remark in that comment was based on my immediate perception of the USA from Europe, sorry.

Hmmm... Let's list the first nation with an emission test for vehicles. (California 1966, USA 1968)
How about the first legislation on auto manufacturers for fuel efficiency (USA 1975)
Now, just to be sure, let's list the top five carbon emitting nations - per capita.

Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Luxembourg, Trinidad and Tobago (weird)

I hope this helps to change your perception. Granted, some of our policies are misguided, or downright stupid, but that's a lot different than intentionally negligent.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

VagaStorm (691999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239355)

When it comes to environment: California != USA. California has stricter environmental laws than almost anyone, that is not the standard in the US. at least not to my knowledge.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Interesting)

Aczlan (636310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239739)

When it comes to environment: California != USA. California has stricter environmental laws than almost anyone, that is not the standard in the US. at least not to my knowledge.

California standards are defacto standards for the rest of the US as carmakers make all their cars to meet California standards, that way they dont have to have a "California edition" and a "rest of the US edition"...

Re:Carbon credits = lame (5, Informative)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239599)

My last remark in that comment was based on my immediate perception of the USA from Europe, sorry.

Hmmm... Let's list the first nation with an emission test for vehicles. (California 1966, USA 1968)
How about the first legislation on auto manufacturers for fuel efficiency (USA 1975)
Now, just to be sure, let's list the top five carbon emitting nations - per capita.

Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Luxembourg, Trinidad and Tobago (weird)

I hope this helps to change your perception. Granted, some of our policies are misguided, or downright stupid, but that's a lot different than intentionally negligent.

Actually, lets list them all [wikipedia.org]

And lets observe that the top 9 have a population of about 12million, and are all island, desert or city states.
Let us also observe that the major European states (UK, Germany, France, Spain) all have half the per-capita figures of the USA.

The reason the US eneacted those laws before Europe is because Europe was going for small and efficient anyway (E.g. by producing the Mini and VW beetle, and there was already pressures on fuel efficiency via fuel taxes and fuel rationing (during the war).

This attempt at spinning the figures, plus trying to shift the focus away from yourselves and small countries, most of whom are producing oil for the industrialised nations anyway, will only reinforce many perceptions about Americans.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Insightful)

StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239637)

Kyoto is fundamentally flawed in that the two biggest up and coming polluters (China and India) are exempt. If everyone else cleans up their act (by shipping all their dirty manufacturing to those countries), we haven't solved anything, just shifted the mess to someplace with fewer regulations.

People in the USA tend to drive massive, fuel-hungry cars and fly planes a lot, which looks bad. ... My last remark in that comment was based on my immediate perception of the USA from Europe, sorry.
Maybe you shouldn't believe everything you see in the movies and/or your papers. Millions of people, maybe 100 million, in the US have never even flown. We're also a big country (about 3000 miles from coast to coast, where the major commerce centers are located) and that necessitates air travel for some things. Just because you can drive from one side of Germany to the other in a couple hours doesn't mean I can get from New York to California that fast. Oh, and mass transit can't work in the vast majority of the US where the population density is miniscule so those people are going to have to have cars, trucks, etc to be able to live. Still, millions of adults (at least tens of millions), don't own a car at all.

Ok, ok, I'm kidding. Everyone in the US (kids too) drives a hummer and has a C-130 that they bring it onto so they can fly it cross-country. The BBC told me so.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239887)

Also, the USA didn't sign up to Kyoto. My last remark in that comment was based on my immediate perception of the USA from Europe, sorry.
Right, not signing up for Kyoto is so much worse than signing up and then not even coming close to meeting the standards that were agreed upon. The last report I have seen was that the largest European countries not only weren't going to meet their Kyoto mandated reductions in carbon emissions, but were actually going to have increased carbon emissions.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Informative)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239907)

1.) Kyoto is broken anyway. I truly wish no one had signed it.
2.) The US has signed (but not ratified) Kyoto.
For more on my first point, as I understand it kyoto caps industrialized countries, but not many other polluting countries. China is the best example of an "exempt" country, and is indeed the stated reason for the US not ratifying the treaty. China's emissions at this point are stated as having exceeded the US.

The end result of this, and I think we all know it, is that if the US was to ratify and abide by the treaty, large numbers of US (and non-US, for that matter) corporations would move their polluting industry to China. How, exactly, does this reduce global emissions?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239015)

So...I should buy a lot of carbon credits and make a killing in 20 years time? :)

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Informative)

enos (627034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238771)

The point of carbon credits is to do just that. The credits are supposed to reward people putting in these more energy-saving machines. The idea is to put a monetary cost on polluting so that the market can do its thing and end up at a "greener" point by doing exactly what you describe, reducing the problem in the first place.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238913)

What actually will end up happening is that companies or countries (however you want to look at it) that already aren't emitting much CO2 will sell their allowance (that they weren't going to use themselves anyway) to the companies or countries that are emitting a lot of CO2. The net result: you've picked some level of global CO2 emissions and guaranteed that actual emissions will never fall below that value. (If actual global emissions were to fall below that value, then it means somebody's carbon credits aren't being sold, so the carbon credit seller will lower their prices.)

You've also maximized the amount of time it will take for companies or countries to develop technological measures for CO2 emissions reduction. A high emitter will ponder whether to develop/purchase technology or just purchase credits. Technological advancement requires the investment of capital that may not have a return for quite some time. On the other hand, carbon credits - for the holders who will never use them themselves - are free. A carbon credit seller will therefore always be able to beat the cost of technological advancement, so carbon emitters will buy credits first and then develop technology only if/when there are no more credits to buy.

In the end, all you've really done is created a massive system for the redistribution of wealth from industrialized nations to pre-industrial nations.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239099)

In the end, all you've really done is created a massive system for the redistribution of wealth from industrialized nations to pre-industrial nations.
It's actually worse than that. Russia got assigned carbon credits based on Soviet estimates of the size of the economy, despite the fact that the Soviet Union had at that point collapsed and so had the economy. So Russia was offered a huge pile of emissions credits that it could sell as a sweetner for signing up to Kyoto.

http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2005/12/28/2238 [arstechnica.com]

Russia is Europe's largest producer of greenhouse gases, but Russian businessesespecially its power companiesare hoping to cash in on a provision in the Kyoto Accord, which would help change that. The Kyoto Accord sets certain pollution goals to be met by 2012, and these goals are based on 1990 greenhouse emissions. For instance, the countries in the EU are required to reduce their emissions to 8 percent below their 1990 levels. In a strange twist of irony, Russia is already way below their target as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, Russia produces 43 percent less greenhouse gas by weight than they did in 1990. It is estimated that this difference, which can be sold to other countries in the form of carbon credits ranges in value between US$20-60 billion.
So it's not like the cash is going to starving peasants in the Third World, it's actually going to the gangsters who run Gazprom.

Even if it does go to a third world country (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239139)

It isn't going to the people who need it. It's a real false idea that the major problem in these extremely poor countries is lack of money. Some seem to hold the idea that what is going on is nobody is willing to give them any money, and if we'd just quite being assholes then they'd have plenty.

Well, not so much. There actually is aid, more than you'd think. The problem is that aid can't be taken to the people who need it. The big problems really are war, corruption, and population growth. When a nation is torn by war, it's real hard to help those who need it. War makes it physically hard to move the goods where they need to be, and of course war is the act of destroying things, so you need just that much more. Then we have corruption. Especially in the case of money there is the tendency for it to just disappear in to the pockets of those in power and never reach the intended goal.

These are the real problems here, not the lack of aid. Watch Blackhawk Down sometime. That opening sequence with people being gunned over food aid? That shit really happens.

As such carbon credits would solve nothing in that department, even if it is the poor countries selling them. More money is not what is needed, especially if you are saying "Just send the money over there in cash form." That will lead to all of none of it reaching those in need. I can't tell you what the answer is, if I knew I'd be working towards it, but throwing money at the problem isn't it. It's a pity it wasn't that simple, but it just isn't.

Re:Even if it does go to a third world country (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239257)

It's a real false idea that the major problem in these extremely poor countries is lack of money. Some seem to hold the idea that what is going on is nobody is willing to give them any money, and if we'd just quite being assholes then they'd have plenty.
Maybe you're replying to the wrong person, and maybe I didn't make it clear but I agree with this 100%. Poor countries are poor because they are run by thieving bastards, not because they lack money. There are other serious issues of course like most people lack even rudimentary education but democracy would fix most of them in due time by limiting corruption.

Globally it seems like pretty much any culture can become prosperous provided the government dooesn't appropriate things too efficiently. Now it's possible that cultural issues make this impossible in some places of course, like in the Iraq where non tyrannical governments usually mean civil war, so people put up with thieving bastards to have some semblance of security. Those countries are screwed of course - they will never achieve prosperity or produce anything of value culturally. But none of this is something that outsiders can do much about - we can support the least nasty politicicians in a variety of ways, but that can take decades to civilise the country.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Informative)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239297)

First of all, the idea that developing countries will get larger quotas than they currently use is wrong.

To get the credit market to work, you need to make sure there are higher demand than supply, that should not be hard.

Here (in Norway) the state will not issue any "free" credits to the industry.
The state will sell credits for up to 85% of our current emission levels, above that the industry will have to buy credits abroad or reduce their emissions.

Reduction abroad will in many cases be less expensive than domestic reductions (both because the implementation cost will be lower in a developing country, but also because the cheaper "early" improvements already has been done at home). As long as credits bought from abroad reduces emissions where they were bought, the system works.

There are also individuals and organizations positioning themselves to buy up credits without any intentions of using them.

The credit system will be make sure that existing emission-reduction technology will be implemented as soon as the credit price rise above a certain level. What it will not ensure is funding for long term research into new solutions.

Research into new energy sources and emission-reduction technology still needs heavy governmental support. A good start would be 1% of GDP for all industrialized countries.

The nonsense about the carbon credit system being a wealth redistribution system is just stupid.
Giving / implementing emission-reduction technology to the industry in the developing is in no shape or form redistribution of wealth, it's saving our bacon.

And remember, a large part of the industry in the developing countries is owned by multinationals, if the carbon credit system did not include those countries, all that would happen is that even more of the worlds production would "globalize".

Re:Carbon credits = SCAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238777)

Not only has the "global warming" not being proven yet, but the CO2 role in it would be completely bogus a claim. Carbon credits are just another financial scheme to strip suckers from their money. It will eventually prove to be yet another bubble, with the usual disastrous consequences when it folds.

Re:Carbon credits = SCAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238829)

Global warming is easily provable but the jury's still out on the contribution of humanities CO2 emissions. As a result of insulting ideas such as carbon credits and green taxes, I'm deliberately doubling my carbon footprint over the next decade (obviously in such a way that I avoid "green" taxation).

Re:Carbon credits = SCAM (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239249)

"green taxes" are just another excuse for increasing taxes.. If it wasn't "global warming" as an excuse, it would be something else.
If the government truly want to reduce carbon emissions, they need to stop punishing those who emit carbon because there's often no other practical choice. Instead, they need to provide incentives to use and develop alternatives, and incentives to reduce energy use.

As an example, look at fuel taxes... Intended to force people onto overcrowded overpriced public transport. The public transport systems in most large cities are horrendous, animal rights groups would be up in arms if someone tried to transport cattle in such conditions. You get a large concentration of businesses in a small space, and no affordable housing nearby which results in huge numbers of people having to travel. And if you live outside of a big city, then public transport tends to have very poor coverage.
You need to encourage businesses to spread out, and build their offices where there is an abundance of affordable housing for their staff, or in many cases staff could easily work from home (and the government could encourage this with tax breaks for companies with employees at home, and pressure on telco's to provide better home working enabling services).

It is utterly ridiculous for so many companies to be concentrated in small areas at the centre of large cities, and then require their staff to waste hours of their days enduring inhumane conditions to get there.

Re:Carbon credits = SCAM (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239337)

So you want to have companies build where there is an abundance of affordable housing for their staff?

Uhm.

Do you know what as city is?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238801)

Or just live your life as you see fit, and let the environmentalist hippies sit and spin?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (4, Informative)

Antity-H (535635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238823)

Actually it does according to market theory.

Currently the market does not integrate the cost of emitting carbon in the atmosphere. As a result the carbon emitting technologies seem to be less expensive for the same result and the market logically develops these. Introducing a feedback in the market that the carbon emissions actually has a cost sends a message saying that carbon emitting tech is not the most efficient choice. The market will find an alternative solution instead of a solution being forced on it which might not be the most efficient in the end.

You mention that you want to eliminate the problem in the first place then you mention solar power, but how do you know that solar power is the best, or that nuclear power is? Maybe it's wind based, or ethanol based, or hydrogen based power or even cattle based power that's the most efficient. Or maybe a company will start doing research because there is a market for it and someone will come up with a transimentional p0rn energy extractor or even an Anonymous Coward based power source, who knows ?

The thing is the market will integrate the feedback signal and propagate it. This avoids forcing decisions on the market about the solution, the certificates are only reminding it of the problem. Going for carbon-netural server-farm is simply passing along the signal back to energy producers.

It looks like it's working for other problems.IIRC sulfur dioxid emission certificates led companies who claimed that installing an emission cleaner for it cost too muuch to actually install them even though buying the certificates seemed to cost less. the real price (vs company reported) of installing the cleaner was less than trading certificates in the long term thus they ended up investing.

Let's hope it will work for carbon too.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238863)

"Currently the market does not integrate the cost of emitting carbon in the atmosphere."

Thats where your problems start right there.

the IS NO COST to emitting carbon that anyone can quantify as yet, so your building this whole retarded carbon trading scheme on NOTHING but speculation, and you know what happens to markets which over speculate?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (4, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238947)

the IS NO COST to emitting carbon that anyone can quantify as yet

Sure there is. Just make an organization liable for the costs of climate-change related damage relative to the amount of CO2 it directly emits. You already have to buy carbon credits if you emit CO2 so we have a registry of who emits and how much. This way, the cost is amortized over the whole economy, increasing our ability to manage it (via general price increases).

For instance, let's say that mosquitos start moving up into Europe and spreading various nasty diseases. The health insurance claims for these events can be claimed back from the economy as a whole by suing the CO2 emitters in a class action suit. The details of whether a particular problem was caused or the risk increased by climate change can be thrashed out by the courts. I sense some scepticism in your remarks over whether climate change is real - that's OK, you can believe what you want, but I suspect when put in a court any such defence would have a hard time in the face of a nearly unlimited supply of expert witnesses. The CO2 emitters would be forced to try and calculate the risk to the environment from what they do based on what they believe and the advice their experts give them, and would then pass that on to their customers, thus the "true cost" of climate change would ripple through the economy.

This has benefit over the rather artificial carbon credits market, in that the "cost" of emitting a ton of CO2 is - as you rightly point out - basically pulled out of somebodies arse right now. What's more, they were deliberately set low enough to not have any impact on existing businesses, so instead of bringing about real change they just brought extra democracy. The idea of using markets to take action is the right one, but the "risk premium" needs to be priced into everyday goods.

I just made this scheme up off the top of my head. There are several key objections I can anticipate. The first is that climate change seems likely to kill a lot of people via disease/drought/etc, if indeed it's not doing so already, and how can you price a human life? Well, it is possible, but only in various untasteful ways. I don't think this one is solvable, nor should it detract from the scheme - the market is a tool and we need it to serve us now, to reach our end goals.

The second is that it would be inflationary if enacted globally, at once, because it would lead to a round of general price increases which would then in turn cause more borrowing by those without the spare cashflow to absorb it (ie, most people these days), thus inflating the money supply. This is especially true of essentials like oil (let's ignore peak oil for now). Inflation in the presence of a general price increase is not inevitable assuming you define inflation as an increase in the size of the money supply - that's an artifact of the fractional reserve. Replacing the fractional reserve with something less prone to inflation is certainly a good idea. But, if you suppress inflation (eg, by going to a Robertson/Huber type money supply), a general price increase makes us all poorer. That's more or less inevitable though - we would simply be paying what other people less able to pay (because they just lost their food supply/health/whatever) would be paying anyway, but everyone pays a small amount now instead of watching and saying "I hope that never happens to me". It's not a different concept to insurance in fact, but it's not optional, because climate change affects everyone.

The third is that it requires everybody to act more or less in concert. Unfortunately the "race to the bottom" is a general problem with regulating business and should not discourage us from working together to do so.

There are probably more problems with this scheme, but it does have the advantage that carbon emission is priced "naturally" and integrated into the sticker price of things like a unit of electricity - if you can get yourself out of the CO2 emitters game by replacing your electricity usage with solar or wind (or even nuclear!) then you are no longer liable for potentially huge disaster-relief costs, thus you can lower your prices, gaining an advantage over your competitors.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238967)

they just brought extra democracy

extra bureaucracy

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239237)

Fine, in principle.

In practice, the tricky part is establsihing what portion of what harm came from humanly generated carbon-emissions.

It took literally -decades- for courts to even establish that yes, smoking is directly related to lung-cancer, and yes, if a person has been smoking for decades and develop lung-cancer, it is likely that smoking is the cause. (it's not certain, you can very well develop lung-cancer even without smoking, it's just less likely) That's decades *after* it was scientifically consensus.

Currently, there's people claiming there exist no global warming at all. You've got others arguing it exists, but the net-effect is *positive* not negative. Yet others claiming it exists, but sunspot-activity is the reason. Yet others arguing that it exists, but some other terrestrial reason is the cause. And so on and so on.

There's also the sligth problem of jurisdiction. I somehow don't think it'll be practical for farmers in Brazil to sue 39522 companies in 179 jurisdictions for their share of the blame for this years drougth. Even if it could be proved that it was caused by global warming. (which is doubtful: you may well be able to prove that the weather is on -average- drier in some region due to global warming, but proving that this spesific drougth is caused by that is another matter alltogether.)

In short, no, I don't think the courts will be able to trash this out.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Interesting)

Alchemist253 (992849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239427)

Part of the problem is that we see a perpetuation of the myth that everyone's opinion is equally valid on this issue (or any issue, for that matter).

There is of course the old phrase, "you are entitled to your own opinion, not to your own facts." But let's suppose that everyone agrees on the basic facts. The facts in question are not things like global average surface temperature; the global warming opponents are correct that we do not have actual temperature data for most of the planet's history. Instead, the facts are more obscure: oxygen isotope ratios, nitrogen exchange rates, geological strata, etc.

Valid interpretation of these data (and their significance vis a vis human involvement) is HARD! I am an organic chemist by training, which probably makes me better suited to analyze the facts than most, but even I readily admit that I have difficulty deciphering the maze of evidence out there. Fortunately, there are others (climatologists) who have spent decades or longer learning all there is to know about climate science, and scrutinizing the data. The OVERWHELMING CONSENSUS among PhD-level climatologists (and I know a few personally) is the global warming is REAL, and is HUMAN CAUSED.

Now, the problem arises when politicians, businessmen, and even scientists stepping outside their discipline start second-guessing the climatologists' work. I submit that unless you have equivalent training, education, and experience as those with whom you disagree on a fundamentally scientific issue, your opinion COUNTS LESS. I completely ignore the ramblings of the people talking about sunspots, et cetera, because I trust that the majority of climate scientists knows what it is doing. My only alternative is to go for a PhD in that field, and start slowly bringing myself to the majority's level.

It strikes me as interesting that most people (not necessarily most on Slashdot, though) tend to willingly accept the pronouncements of auto mechanics, physicians, and electricians, for example, all of whom are similarly professionals but working in fields much more comprehensible and accessible than climate science. But when it comes to global warming, suddenly everyone and their brother know more than the professors.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

jrminter (1123885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239805)

The OVERWHELMING CONSENSUS among PhD-level climatologists (and I know a few personally) is the global warming is REAL, and is HUMAN CAUSED.

I agree with much of what you wrote concerning the difficulty of the problem. You seem to omit the observation that several prominent meteorologists with decades of research into the thermodynamics and fluid mechanics of tropical storm formation reject the conclusions of the climatologists that you cited. Sadly, too much in this debate is controlled by the push to get funding for research into fashionable theories and too little honest scrutiny of the conclusions.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (2, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239711)

Sure, of course it's not possible to get this exactly right, but you don't need to. You only need to make the products of companies that emit carbon more expensive. Trying to figure out how much more expensive is what this is all about - the current "state of the art" is carbon credits, the prices of which are set by politicians in response to lobbying. Having them set by the courts is only a minor improvement, but it is still an improvement. You can take into account 'increased risk' with some fancy formulas if you like, or you can say something like "you have a 1 in N chance of having to pay for this disaster" - the effect in terms of raising prices would be the same.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239755)

What a bureaucratic nightmare. There is a simple formula for determining the amount of CO2 emitted from a process.

C + O2 -> CO2
So the simple way of capping carbon emissions, is to cap the supply of carbon based fuels. This is the only way that any useful CO2 emmissions reduction will take place, as the carbon-based fuels vendors will surely find other ways/markets in which to sell their product. Unless regulated by government (or geology), nothing will change: They aren't in the business to limit the growth or reduce their market share.

So: You wanna cap emissions to X percent of 1990 levels? Then limit production of carbon-based fuels to X percent of 1990 production levels. Obviously, you can't do that in one fell swoop, but certainly you could ramp down fossil fuel production over time to meet that target.

Having said that, economic recession would almost be assured. However, it certainly would get corporations thinking hard about their energy supplies, and renewables would automatically become more cost-effective.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238961)

I have plenty of thoughts in it being a scam. But the problem as I see it is that we have a lot of investment in alternative energy that hasn't paid off because they cannot get it as efficient and cheap as conventional methods of energy. They need the conventional methods to cost more so investors can start reaping profits and to hopefully make if more cost effective in the future with mass production and all.

But I think a failure of this might mean that we won't have as much investment in making the alternative energy more cost effective or efficient. You will get some cute in costs just by making the production step up from niche market to mass production but that might not transfer to the consumer as a savings for quite some time. At least until productions methods are perfected. You can mandate a certain amount of use to keep them happy for a short time but in the long run, the two fields need to be competitive in cost per unit of energy production and this is a way of doing it when other methods failed.

So you can look at it as a scam however you want. I see it as a band aid with unintended consequences. And I have other ideas about scams as far as the carbon trading is concerned. This if anything is just a secondary use.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239035)

As long as conventional energy sources like coal & coil continue to be subsidized by our tax dollars alternative energy sources will face an up hill battle. Then when those new energy sources finally can compete with the old ones and the old ones start to rise in cost why would the new ones not rise also (if remaining just lower in cost). Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239189)

The problem is that the subsidies aren't that much in comparison to the amounts charged. But people need energy to live and making sure there is a way to get energy to them is a necessity that is justifies the subsidies.

On the other hand, a good majority of alternative energy research is subsidized also. I don't know the ratio to productions units for a proper comparison but the same effect is happening.

People think that companies print money and will never run out of it. They also think that the government can do the same. I hope your one of the people that know this just isn't true. The idea of making anything more expensive to the citizen when we are in a situation where energy is more of a utility then a commodity much in the same ways that Police forced and fire departments are. We just cannot live without them. So if we impose this arbitrary fee on energy, it will have to be passed on to the consumer which means we either suffer or demand more pay which in turn causes other prices to go up. There is in effect no sound reasoning behind the Carbon tax outside a feel good somewhat religious experience.

There is no empirical evidence that carbon taxes do anything but impose fees that effectively tax the consumer. There is actually no empirical evidence that the carbon we emit is doing any damage, it could be Mexico's carbon or Europe's. Yet in some cases we are talking about hiking energy costs up for everyone in a vein attempt to enrich some and make others feel good about the environment. This is a cost that was never part of the picture and is being placed there by arbitrary forces with no sound reasoning but to force inefficient technology on us.

There is a big problem with that. Or would it be OK if out of the blue I started charging you for every word you typed on slashdot in order to compensate for the carbon used to power your submission. And what if we calculated the entire round trip's carbon foot print and placed the tax on your utility bills or just taxed you for it. But more specifically, IBM's carbon credits, how do we know if they are going to be notices or remotely recognized by any official credit or taxing agency like the government. What if the US decides that certain carbon credits recognized by Kyoto and whatever aren't god enough and amount to a scam and refuse to accept them?

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

khakipuce (625944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239905)

Of course there is a cost to emitting Carbon, and it is a very real one that we all pay each day. Emit no carbon and you pay no fuel bills. Irrespective of the global warming debate, using less fuel means more profitable companies, and it's only the fact that energy has been very cheap compared to the cost of doing anything about reducing usage that has stopped us from looking at this issue.

We have seen fuel costs rise steadily and they will continue to do so, which will drive up the benefits of being fuel efficient. I personally believe that global warming will add to the rate of increase of fuel costs (e.g. damaged refineries, civil unrest in oil producing countries, etc) and so we will see the necessary feedback, Carbon Trading merely seeks to control the market so that the number of people who die due to Global Warming related issues (wars over water, land, etc) is minimized.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239275)

The problem is that carbon credits suggests that carbon pollution is a resource, that we have n units of carbon pollution, and we should make the most of them - but what we really want it to limit carbon pollution as much as possible. Carbon credits is the wrong solution to the right problem - it just moves the pollution, it doesn't eliminate it.

When enough companies turn green, and there is sure a trend in that direction (granted, also because of carbon credits), they all want to sell thier credits. When supply exceeds demand, price will drop - which means that the incentive to pollute goes up (assuming that operating a low-emission version of a given business is more expensive than running the old, high-emission version). Consider this scenario: Caddillac buys enough carbon credit cheap enough that they can sell a zero-emission Escalade, simply by stuffing enough carbon credits in the trunk? Net win: 0.

The market economy right solution to carbon pollution, is to consider it an externality. Simply impose a tax on carbon emissions - probably a few cents per. kg carbon. This will provide a direct incentive to lower emissions, that doesn't become smaller as technology advances.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239383)

If industrial growth continues while the total carbon credits in circulation declines over time, this should not be a problem.

It's a stated goal in Norway to reduce the domestic carbon credits sold to 0 by 2050. All carbon credits will have to be bought (preferably by paying for emission-reduction technology) in other countries.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21239455)

You fail to realize we do do not exist in a truly free market.

Carbon certificates are ridiculous inventions that, in the long-run, are just another way to steal money from the average working Joe. Companies have costs, and when their costs primarily revolve around servicing debt, satisfying stock holders, buying carbon certificates and investing in cleaning up the messes they make instead of investing in technology that doesn't create a mess in the first place the guy who works the line, manages the people, fixes the machinery or builds the plant all lose out. They don't get raises, they don't get promotions, and the company and economy stagnate.

It's a scam; global warming is occurring because the sun is getting hotter and it always has because of that. A carbon-tax is nothing more than an invasive way to distract attention away from the truely dangerous environmental problems; mass dumping of dioxins and heavy metals, aluminum used for bottling soft drinks, lax food standards that lead to epidemics of disease and cancer, fluoridation of water. Those are REAL environmental issues with real side effects that we can do something about and have in the past until the government decided to be lax about it.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (3, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238867)

The whole concept of "carbon neutral" and off-setting your carbon emissions for whatever reason seams kind of lame to me.
It's not supposed to be functional, it's supposed to make you feel better about your "sin".

It's the global-warming equivalent of saying your Hail Marys.

Re:Carbon credits = lame (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239075)

They remind me of medieval indulgences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence [wikipedia.org]

In the Middle Ages the Catholic church was theoretically committed to eliminating sin. Mind you eliminating sin requires sacrifice, just like eliminating carbon emissions does. So like the UN they decided to sell indulgences, a sort of sin offset. This is good for the people selling, since they get money. And good for the sinner, since they can continue to sin for a small fee. And if you were rich and well connected, the price of indulgences could be very cheap indeed.

Oddly enough the fee for carbon credits is now very small, since governments have sold far too many of them. The price is now so low they are an effective license to pollute.

http://newsbusters.org/node/10989 [newsbusters.org]

Stick with this, folks, because the entire concept of carbon credits could totally implode:

"The Stern Report suggests we need a price for a tonne of carbon emissions of $20, rising to $30, $40 or even $50 to stabilise [the level of CO2 in the atmosphere] at manageable levels," he said. "But there is a good chance that the carbon credits that are meant to provide incentives for reducing emissions will be available for next to nothing."
How delicious. The article marvelously continued:

The problems with the European Trading Scheme are well documented with the collapse in the price of a tonne of carbon dating back to May last year when it emerged that most countries in the scheme had set their carbon caps far too high, resulting in fewer firms than expected having to buy credits and causing the price of a tonne of carbon to plummet from over 30 to less than 10.
Everybody still with me? Good:

As one delegate observed "with some firms having carbon emissions capped at 110 percent of what they actually required it was always going to fail".

The EU is seeking to rectify the problem ahead of the second phase of the scheme, which starts next year, and recently rejected many member countries proposed emission allowances for the next phase as too high, ordering them to go away and come back with lower caps that will force more firms to cut emissions or buy credits.

However, Jepma argued that with no link existing between the first and second phase of the scheme the cost of carbon credits will drop to almost nothing by the end of the year. Currently the price is already below one euro meaning there is little incentive for firms to cut emissions as it is cheaper to just buy in credits to offset their pollution.

How can user of electricity get carbon credits? (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239313)

Granting carbon credits for cutting your electricity bill seems like double-counting to me. The whole point is meant to be that the carbon quotas apply at the point where carbon dioxide is emitted. For example, a coal-fired power station could close down and be replaced by a tidal power station, generating carbon credits which can be sold on. If in turn a user of electricity gets credited for using less (even though the power they are buying didn't generate carbon to start with), that is clearly bogus.

So if only the producer of CO2 emissions must pay for carbon emissions (or get subsidized for reducing them, which amounts to the same thing in marginal cost terms), how is there any incentive for people to cut electricity use? Because the cost of buying CO2 quota is passed down as part of their electricity bill. The economic incentive for moving to a more efficient computer is a lower power bill, just as it's always been.

Oh yeah! (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238753)

0.10 IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
0.20 PROGRAM-ID. JL01A.
0.30 *
0.40 ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
0.50 CONFIGURATION SECTION.
0.60 SPECIAL-NAMES.
0.70 TERMINAL IS TERM.
0.80 INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
0.90 *
1.00 DATA DIVISION.
1.10 FILE SECTION.
1.20 *
1.30 WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.
1.40 77 WS-TEKST PIC A(13) VALUE "WELCOME BACK.".
1.50 *
1.60 PROCEDURE DIVISION.
1.70 JL01A.
1.80 *
1.90 DISPLAY "HELLO WORLD, " WS-TEKST UPON TERM.
2.00 *
2.10 FIN.
2.20 STOP RUN.

Re:Oh yeah! (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238925)

0.10 IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
0.20 PROGRAM-ID. JL01A.
0.30 *
0.40 ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
0.50 CONFIGURATION SECTION.
0.60 SPECIAL-NAMES.
0.70 TERMINAL IS TERM.
0.80 INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
0.90 *
1.00 DATA DIVISION.
1.10 FILE SECTION.
1.20 *
1.30 WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.
1.40 77 WS-TEKST PIC A(13) VALUE "WELCOME BACK.".
1.50 *
1.60 PROCEDURE DIVISION.
1.70 JL01A.
1.80 *
1.90 DISPLAY "HELLO WORLD, " WS-TEKST UPON TERM.
2.00 *
2.10 FIN.
2.20 STOP RUN.
Oh yeah, I've played this game. Just buy a potion from Gandolf!

Re:Oh yeah! (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239179)

Cobol burns my eyes!

Is that cobol? (1)

slashbart (316113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239505)

Really

Thank god I've always been an engineer :-)

carbon credit nonsense (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238831)

I'm as liberal as they come but this carbon credit nonsense has to stop.

You either do something to be more efficient and earth-friendly or you don't.

Carbon credits allows the rich to keep doing whatever they want while preaching to others to live more conservatively.

Here's a thought, focus on the worst pollution areas of the world like China and reduce air travel by half - why do people fly so much if it's such a hassle to fly, especially to/from/within the USA?

Re:carbon credit nonsense (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238843)

in all the polluting things we do, air travel is so fucking insignificant, why are you even bothering to focus on it?

if anything, more air travel means less need for large highways which means less clearing, which is far better for our environment.

Re:carbon credit nonsense (1)

wilhelm9 (252724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238887)

I did not quite get it. What has air travel to do with this article?

Re:carbon credit nonsense (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238973)

Either reduce your browsing defaults to 0 or -1 or hit the parnet button on his posts to follow his response to the comment he made it to.

He is actually responding to an AC who said something along the lines of make China quit or reduce air traffic.

Re:carbon credit nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21239011)

You probably missed the parent that this comment was replying to. The new Slashdot comment system has an incredibly annoying bug (or design flaw) that prevents comments from being threaded properly. Many comments appear as replies to the wrong parent. Even if you set the doohickey on the left side of the screen to show only full comments and not hide any, parents will still often be hidden. The only workaround that I know of is to click a comment's parent link if the comment seems suspiciously out of context.

It's ridiculously irritating to spend time trying to puzzle out the meaning of a comment in the wrong context only to realize that the stupid threading system has obscured the parent.

I hope it's fixed soon, but I'm not crossing my fingers...

Re:carbon credit nonsense (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238997)

Air travel accounts for at most 3%. Just changing all the residential light bulbs in America and EU to CFL (or better yet, led), would save more than that. Whats more if you quit air travel, then ppl will travel via other means. For America that means cars. So that 1.5 saved, is instead about .75%.
OTH, getting china to quit polluting would be a major step in the right direction. But the same is true of America. We are not heavy polluters WRT smog, but we generate LOADS of CO2.

Re:carbon credit nonsense (3, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239211)

Here's a thought, focus on the worst pollution areas of the world like China and reduce air travel by half - why do people fly so much if it's such a hassle to fly, especially to/from/within the USA?
Why? A 747 gets 100 miles per gallon per passenger.

http://www.howstuffworks.com/question192.htm [howstuffworks.com]

This sounds like a tremendously poor miles-per-gallon rating! But consider that a 747 can carry as many as 568 people. Let's call it 500 people to take into account the fact that not all seats on most flights are occupied. A 747 is transporting 500 people 1 mile using 5 gallons of fuel. That means the plane is burning 0.01 gallons per person per mile. In other words, the plane is getting 100 miles per gallon per person! The typical car gets about 25 miles per gallon, so the 747 is much better than a car carrying one person, and compares favorably even if there are four people in the car. Not bad when you consider that the 747 is flying at 550 miles per hour (900 km/h)!
Better than one person in Prius.

http://www.toyota.com/prius/ [toyota.com]

The Prius boasts an EPA-estimated combined city/highway rating of 46 miles per gallon
Two or more in people in Prius will beat a 747. Or maybe not, loading up a car will cause the total miles per gallon to drop as the weight increases. Maybe you need three people in a Prius to be safe. But most cars have one person and lower mpg, so it's not like 747s are worse on average than cars.

You don't need to Google all this stuff yourself of course, you just pick the cheapest way to travel and rely on market forces to make the most energy efficient way the cheapest. Which should be true so long as oil is expensive enough to make it a non neglibable part of total costs.

Re:carbon credit nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21239657)

So you think that the only alternative to flying is driving a car? An oil-driven car? You are quite a visionary. That the CO2 emissions of a 747 are comparable to those of a car is not a good thing for the plane, it's fucking awful.

carbon trading set to burn many (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238835)

So, in 50 years when the earth HASN'T turned into a bad hollywood movie and everyone wakes up to the fact global warming is a scam, get we get a refund on these bogus credits?

this whole carbon trading thing reeks of profiteering to me.

Re:carbon trading set to burn many (2, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238871)

It's a great idea really. You're a big polluting corporation, so you set up a couple of very low emission subsidury companies that earn "carbon credits" for their low carbon footprint. You then "buy" these credits off them to allow you to pollute as much as you want.

See, the environment is saved.

Re:carbon trading set to burn many (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238901)

Most accounting and tax systems have rules for intra-company goods exchange so that should be prevented.

Re:carbon trading set to burn many (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239267)

So you spin them off as separate companies who just happen to have the same owners...

Re:carbon trading set to burn many (1)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238937)

So, in 50 years when the earth HASN'T turned into a bad hollywood movie
Isn't that the objective to begin with?

It's still pollution... (3, Insightful)

reydeyo (1126459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238981)

...and reducing the amount of pollution we spew into the atmosphere is beneficial to us and to the environment, global-warming boogeyman or not.

Mod parent Up (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239163)

Excellent point. I can think of a lot of reasons to reduce CO2 and other emissions that are far better and more immediate that climate change.

Unfortunately its lost on a lot of people. Regardless what you believe the whole GW debate has got so... politically religious that a lot of people just don't want to know anymore. (note: /. is *not* a good reflection on what a lot of people think)

Re:Mod parent Up (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239199)

Not to mention the fact that it seems like everything EXCEPT CO2 has been completely forgotten! Pretty annoying...

Mod Parent Up (2, Interesting)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239203)

So, in 50 years when the earth HASN'T turned into a bad hollywood movie and everyone wakes up to the fact global warming is a scam, get we get a refund on these bogus credits? this whole carbon trading thing reeks of profiteering to me.
That's exactly right. The speed of global warming is grossly exaggerated and most so-called ways of fighting it are scams. In 50 years earth won't yet have turned into a disaster movie. The problem is that there's so much inertia in this process that in 50 years the disaster will be too late to stop.

Re:Mod Parent Up (2, Funny)

dammy (131759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239605)

Sitting in Southern Florida for a second hurricane season that hasn't been seen in 30 years, of inactivity, one has to wonder about the CO2 hype. I know, I'm a nasty old troll that will be mod way down because I dare to think differently then the Gorebull Warming crowd here on /. Be as that may for those reading the negative karma replies, Cap and Trade is a return of the central planning http://youtube.com/watch?v=k4oBjbe8BIA/ [youtube.com] days of an era we all would like never to come back. For those of you who really do think I'm a troll, here is an easy $125K right in your pocket, just take this test: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/09-25-2007/0004669458&EDATE=/ [prnewswire.com] .

If we do look at Gorebull Warming, let us remember that since the dire predictions of massive warming if the CO2 ppm is doubled, yet where is this because we are what, ~75% to that ppm already? Shouldn't my house been blown away already from none stop hurricanes? Or could it be Solar Activity: http://sidc.oma.be/products/quieta/ [sidc.oma.be] has quiet down causing more clouds (cosmic rays increase production of clouds) which keeps a bit cooler.

Typical (1)

idiotwithastick (1036612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238897)

Companies provide incentives for you to buy their products. What's new?

Good Investment? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238905)

Wow, sounds like a good idea to start looking at IBM's stock.

Isn't this where.... (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238927)

we came in?

Apologies to Pink Floyd.

Polite solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21238955)

Carbon credits sounds like a polite solution that governments come up with at the begining of a long term problem. Like voluntary rationing. Not that energy efficient isn't a good thing.

Where the long term problem is either global warming, sickening pollution, rising cost of depleted resources, war for whatever reason, etc.

Carbon credits? (1)

transiit (33489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238969)

I'm sorry, but could someone explain what a carbon credit is, or what these "emerging carbon markets" are all about?

I did some cursory research, and as best as I can tell, carbon certificates have value only in public perception. Like gold stars for exceptional pupils.

Is there really a market for "warm & fuzzy feelings" now?

Re:Carbon credits? (1)

AdmiralAudio (990385) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239047)

Is there really a market for "warm & fuzzy feelings" now?

Apparently so.

And if carbon credits aren't your thing, you can always purchase carbon debits [carboncreditkillers.com] instead!

A carbon credit is a permission to pollute (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239065)

At the moment there is no permission required to pollute, you could pump as much CO2 into the air as you like. Well, instead of that the government says:

1: You need permission to pollute.
2: You get those permissions from the carbon credit markets.
3: You have to buy them at whatever they cost in that market every year.
4: You can sell permissions if you have more than you need.

Then the government auctions enough credits to represent a slight reduction in the overall production in CO2. Each credit might represent one tonne of CO2. Then each year the government reduces the numbers of credits available in the market. The cost of a credit then increases simply due to the reduction in supply or the increase in demand.

As the cost of emitting the CO2 increases, companies will switch to alternative solutions, choosing whichever they like best.

Of course, this only works if politicians aren't completely corrupt or utter morons, as seems largely to be the case. In that case they might give companies credits and allow them to sell them on the markets, it's basically free money to those companies which receive the credits.

Re:A carbon credit is a permission to pollute (1)

CortoMaltese (828267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239533)

I'll complete your explanation with the obligatory, yet not-so-far-off-the-truth addition:

1: You need permission to pollute.
2: You get those permissions from the carbon credit markets.
3: You have to buy them at whatever they cost in that market every year.
4: You can sell permissions if you have more than you need.
5: ???
6: Profit!!!

Actually no. (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21238985)

Peak oil is going to do the job instead.
 

Re:Actually no. (1)

Teriblows (1138203) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239425)

yup, no real point putting pressure on companies and perhaps reducing job growth. poverty creates plenty of carbon output. burning dirty sources of heating and collected wood in inefficient fireplaces etc. and in other countries, its slash and burn agriculture.

Re:Actually no. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239509)

poverty creates plenty of carbon output. burning dirty sources of heating and collected wood in inefficient fireplaces etc.
Not even close to the amount of CO2 produced by cars, ships and planes.

I actually have a theory that global warming is being pushed so hard by politicians primarily because of peak oil.

 

Peak-oil is overrated (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239665)

Come back when we reach peak-coal.

The fact that carbon trading exists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21239073)

...doesn't make any sense to me. How do you sell your cleanliness to someone else? Either you are or you aren't. Who determined the zero point where you earn credit vs. damage? Who came up with this crazy idea first and are they rubbing their hands maniacally?

Carbon Credit Market ? With real money ? (2, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239159)

If I've ever heard of something ripe for the plucking by anyone and everyone who is just a tad corrupt, then this is it. We'll have a proper eco-mob. Seriously, who's going to regulate this market ? Who checks the validity of these certificates ? Because this sounds like printing your own money.

realy GREEN (1)

ledvinap (412654) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239229)

So .. how much carbon certificates do i get when i change my plan and instead of building farm of ENIACs (174kW each) i use Sinclair ZX spectrum (12W max?)

Carbon credits is bullshit! (1, Flamebait)

dinther (738910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239241)

I am getting sick to the gut from this carbon credit crap that is spouted all over the place. Doesn't anyone think any more these days? See: www.carbonhoax.org.nz

In the end (3, Funny)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239253)

In the end we'll end up with just 5 huge mainframes in the world as foretold by the IBM executive in the 50's? (can't remember where he was quoted).

Re:In the end (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239795)

Does it run Linux?

x86 inefficent? (2, Interesting)

happymellon (927696) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239375)

IBM promoting a proprietary technology? Wouldn't you get the same type of saving on moving to Power or Sparc instead of x86 since they are also hugely more energy efficent? You also have to remember that it depends on what your processing, mainframe will only provide you with a speed boost with certain types of basic arithmetic (quite a big speed boost in some cases). So take these increases with a pinch of salt. On second thoughts perhaps I'm just bitter from increasing capacity the capacity of our mainframes to run more processes, and finding all our existing licenses cost more because they all charge you on potential capacity of the system rather than number of copies even if you not using the extra capacity for the existing apps.

Power Consumption Predictions (4, Insightful)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239655)

As a general rule, if you're building a business computer and want to save as much as electricity as possible, the most highly virtualized (and virtualizable) platform wins. So attributes like massive caches and screaming I/O help enormously. (I think there was a Stanford study recently that figured this out.) Thus it's no surprise a modern mainframe is more energy efficient than anything else.

But in the Computerworld article referenced in the original story, IBM says the carbon program will also be available for its System p servers at some point in the future. My prediction is that you'll typically get fewer certificates if you move to System p versus System z, but it's likely businesses will do some of both depending on what sort of applications they're rehosting. There are some types of applications that will do better on System p, and there is some software that runs on AIX that doesn't run on z/OS or Linux.

Regarding SPARC it's impossible to say since Sun hasn't entered into any carbon credit auditing system yet. The IBM-Neuwing program is a first. However, my prediction is that you'll get even fewer certificates if you consolidate to SPARC. I say that simply because I assume IBM is acting in its own self-interest, and I'm sure they think the energy efficiency fight is one they can win against other vendors. In this case self-interest and environmentalism coincide. For any of these platforms, though, businesses will figure out whether the certificates favor certain platforms over others, and they'll do that application by application (or application function by application function). And many other factors will go into the decision as well, although most of those factors pull in the same direction as energy efficiency, such as software charges. One could even imagine that before long server vendors lagging in the energy efficiency department will start bundling carbon certificates with their servers in order to compete. Thus IBM adopting this program is a smart way to respond to an untapped market need and to raise the effective price of competing servers compared to IBM's. Very smart move.

By the way, the world has totally flipped on its head, and it would be extremely misleading to say an IBM mainframe is "proprietary" and X86 (for example) isn't. What does proprietary mean? You can run pure 100% GPL Linux on an IBM mainframe -- Debian, Slackware, CentOS, etc. -- and you don't even need a closed source driver as you usually need for X86 servers. IBM publishes extreme instruction-level detail in a free book called Principles of Operation [ibm.com] , and it's so detailed and thorough that the open source community created an implementation of the instruction set called Hercules that actually works compared to still imperfect efforts like Bochs and QEMU. (Although IBM may assert patent claims on its processor architecture.) One company is porting OpenSolaris to System z, and they didn't even have to ring up IBM. In comparison, Intel and AMD also may assert patent claims, and AMD is suing Intel for alleged monopolistic behavior. Neither Intel nor AMD publish PoO-type documents (to that level of detail). Then there's Microsoft Windows, and it's hard to think of any more proprietary OS than that.

Also, IBM changed the way it charges for z/OS software about 7 years ago. Now almost everything is charged by the amount you actually use, something IBM calls Variable Workload License Charge (VWLC). If you run a little bit of DB2 in one LPAR (partition) but a lot of IMS in another, then you pay a little for DB2 and more for IMS. You also control exactly what you consume using something called softcaps, and you can set those either per-LPAR or for a group of LPARs. One interesting little twist to mainframe subcapacity licensing is that, if you need a little bit of WebSphere (and a lot of other IBM products), the lowest entry price (smallest license you can order) is for z/OS. You can order as little as 1 "Value Unit" of WebSphere for z/OS, but the minimum on any other processor (including X86) is 100 Value Units. (And realistically you need at least 400 to put anything into production on X86: two uni's for production, at least one uni for test/development, and one for DR. One VU is a realistic mainframe order for a small application or two.) Strange but true.

Re:Power Consumption Predictions (2, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239821)

It all sounds like a very workable idea until you have to move from pretty much any other operating system to z/OS. The fact that JCL is still used anywhere astounds me. Once you're actually in a linux partition things are OK, but the rest of the environment is in need of serious usability improvements. There also seems to be a tendency to develop huge amounts of restrictive process around mainframes (a la 'The Difference Engine' almost) ...

There are Things More Important Than Being Green (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21239749)

In an age of terrorism, being distributed is better than being centralized.

First, price a mainframe... not an exciting option (1)

scottsk (781208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21239913)

Before you get too excited about this, first price a mainframe. You first have to rewire your building for three-phase power, since they don't run on wall current. Then you've consolidated all your servers to one box, so you'd better have 24x7 uninterruptible power, and your current UPS generator likely doesn't supply 3-phase power. You also have to have adequate cooling, even with air-cooled z9 models. Then you have to buy a z9 (their entry level) and software, which is pretty expensive. Then you have to buy disk space. You will probably buy a x86 solution like the FlexES CUB, unless you can afford mainframe channel-attached DASD. Then you'll have to hire someone to care for this new beast, and good luck because no one learns about mainframes in college anymore. (Or, start on page 1 of the ABCs of Systems Programming five-volume set IBM publishes.... You won't be productive any time soon.) After that, you can start porting your programs to the zSeries instruction set, since you can't run x86 binaries. The only good news is you can run your Java programs as-is in the OMVS POSIX shell. Then you can start licensing the software every year.
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