Friday, 10th February, 2023

[Day 1061]

Today we got going eventually after rather a slow start to proceedings. Once we had picked up our newspaper, we made for Waitrose anticipating that we would bump into one or two people that we knew but we were to be disappointed because none of the regulars showed up this morning. So we enjoyed our coffee and cake and then bought a few things that we needed before we made for home. I cooked a lunch of a (bought) cod pie which we enhanced with some of our own vegetables and enjoyed a tasty lunch. Then we settled down for a lazy afternoon but I copied a few Mozart tracks onto a USB stick so that we can stick that into our devices and play them as and when desired. I was half way through this task when the doorbell rang and it was the firm that regularly services our burglar alarm who was scheduled to call this afternoon but I had comletely forgotten about it (despite it being entered onto our planning board) This was all quite satisfactory but I do not neglect to have the intruder alarm serviced on an annual basis because were this to be neglected, it would probably invalidate our home insurance where the relevant box is ticked to indicate that that the intruder alarm hs been serviced within the last twelve months.

During the week, I saw one of those Panorama programms which really made one stop and think. This program was upon the enormous environmental effects of what is popularly known as ‘the cloud’ but is, in practice, massive banks of computers forming a data farm probably but not exclusively, in the Unites States. Theae data farms consume massive amounts of power and the excess heat generated necessitates a lot of cooling water. Data storage is climbing the ladder of sectors responsible for the largest carbon footprints. In fact, data storage now accounts for more carbon emissions than the commercial airline industry – and a single data centre uses the same amount of electricity that can power up to 50,000 homes. All of this was news to me but then you consider the vast amounts of data that each one of us generates and then crucially no one disposes of, then it all gets stored somewhere. Trying to find out how much extra data is being stored year by year would appear to be a simple question to ask a search engine such as Google but the answers that are given are reflected in the following response to a query how much cloud storage is increasing: ‘starting at around $12 billion in 2010, revenues are predicted to exceed $623 billion by 2025.’ This answer is illuminating because storing increasing mounts of data is just seen as an economic opportunity. Of course in the early days of computing, memory was both limited and expensive so there was much pressure to reduce and eliminate data (old emails and files) that were no longer needed. These days have now absolutely gone and there is every encouragemnt not to prune and to delete but to store ‘in the cloud’ but at a cost, needless to say. Some kinds of data one can understand people wanting to store ‘for ever’ such as photos but there is no real encouragement to dispose of the computer rubbish as it were and, of course, it is quite time intensive to work one’s way through, for example emails, to determine what is to be saved and what is to be junked. The panorama program gave out a statistic that I have no way of checking that 5 minutes of internet searching may consume as much power as, say, boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea.

Tonight there is going to be a program especially devoted to the disappearance of the Lancashire dog walker, Nicola Bulley, who has now been missing for two weeks. It is informative that the authorities are now searching the coastal areas around the Wye estuary, assuming that that Nicola Bulley slipped into the river and was swept away. But if the program is well constructed this evening, it may be that alternative possible explanations for the disappearance may be aired.

The UK economy was officially ‘not in recession’ as the latest batch of economic statistics reveal that the country was basically flatlining. But the case remains that we are the only G7 economy that whose economy is lower than at the start of the pandemic. Of course the ‘elephant in the room’ here is the impact of Brexit because the effects of the pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine and the consequent steep rise in energy prices have to be statistically disentangled from each other. It does seem remarkable that both of our major political parties are still in favour of Brexit whilst an often quoted research finding is that every constituency in the UK except one (Boston in Lincolnshire?) now has a majority of voters who are not in favor of Brexit. We shall have to see what happens after the next general election when it comes but some form of closer association with the EU customs union would seem to be the most sensible economic policy even though no-one in our present political leadership dare mouth it.