Nautilus

Facebook Cools Off

Waste looks like the pile of plastic, Styrofoam, and cardboard that your tiny new earphones came in. It looks like plastic bottles overflowing in the waste bin beside a water fountain. It looks like a Hummer occupied by a single person. But few people think about waste when they post kitty photos on Facebook. The clusters of computers at data centers that power websites live far away from the people who use them. As a result, the energy they consume remains out of sight and out of mind.

Until recently, the executives of most companies served by data centers did not put much thought into energy either. High electricity bills were taken as a sign of thriving business. And by that measure, business is great. Facebook users upload 350 million photos, send more than

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