Droughts Due to Data?

Droughts Due to Data?

Terry Holman, Editor-In-Chief

Have you ever wondered where all your data is? I hate to break it to you, it’s causing droughts. Databases such as Microsoft and Meta, store all of their data in data centers. These centers create a lot of energy and with energy, comes heat. In order to cool these off so as to not start fires, they’ve been using water. However, this is not a good long-term solution. The amount of water that is needed to be able to these centers at a reasonable temperature, is crazy. Researchers at Virginia Tech estimate that it takes 300,000 gallons of water, at least, to cool itself. This is the same amount of water from 100,000 homes. One in five of these data centers is also taking water from the already stressed watershed in the west. Most of these data centers are in deserts and low-humidity, high-temperature areas. 

Though this is the most popular method of cooling, it is the cheapest. There are other alternatives. CyrusOne moved to the Phoenix area, which is known as a drought-risk area and has switched to this alternative. Microsoft is also working towards being “water positive” and plans to achieve this by 2030. 

Meta, located in New Mexico, has switched slightly to a more water-positive method. Despite this, their water consumption is rising, with one-fifth of their water coming from already “water-stressed areas.” They are actively trying to restore water, and plan to have restored all of their water by 2030. 

Just over half of our nation, 50.6% is in a drought. There are about 1,800 co-locations of these data centers, and the number is rising. It is crazy to think something as simple as data, is aiding in our climate change crisis. As more and more of the country enters drought conditions, it is more important to be careful with water consumption.