just brought online what they say is “the largest supercomputer in the world dedicated to geosciences.”[h/t to Colby] Climate scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have
That is saying something, as NCAR already had an enormous supercomputer that it was using, and will continue to use, in Colorado. Other climate computers in use in the United States, at Stanford, Columbia, NASA, NOAA, and elsewhere, have vast computing power as well.
Somewhat ironically, the computational power comes at a price in moral standing, if one equates having a small carbon footprint with having a high moral ranking. That’s because supercomputers of this scale slurp up electricity at staggering rates. The climate scientists using them will tell you that the end justifies the means in their case, and they could be right. But there’s no getting away from the fact that these individuals are using more electricity than you could ever dream of doing.
You and a hundred friends could run around your town or city, let yourselves in unlocked doors every time you found one, and turn on all the lights, all the appliances, all the computers, all the televisions, and all the stereos, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and you wouldn’t touch, you wouldn’t come close, to emitting what these scientists are now emitting, in the name of fighting climate change.
Indeed, NCAR’s supercomputer was constructed in Wyoming specifically because the electricity in the state cost less than that in Colorado. Thus, dozens of scientists and their families moved across the state line because doing so would allow them to emit more carbon dioxide than even NCAR could afford in its original location.