GTG Links 46 – Sony's eco-charging controllers, AI power demand 🆙, climate and policy news, and 🧱LEGO making sustainability a KPI for all

GTG Links 46 – Sony's eco-charging controllers, AI power demand 🆙, climate and policy news, and 🧱LEGO making sustainability a KPI for all
Photo by Ryan Quintal / Unsplash

It's been too long between posts, we've accrued a link debt a mile long. Lot's of posts to share – starting with a few new details on Sony's PlayStation user numbers & controller charger scheduling, tons of scary climate news hitting before Northern Hemisphere Summer arrives, new government climate policy news, George Miller on Cli-Fi (and the limits thereof) and of course sustainability at LEGO!

Why table-top role-playing games can spur climate reflection

An article in Nature of all places, about TTRPGs and what their flexibility could enable in terms of climate stories:

“Board games’ rigid mechanics and limited set of scenarios can restrict creative problem-solving, however. Tabletop role-playing games offer a more personalized and narrative-driven experience. Players often craft their characters’ storylines themselves, guided by frameworks set by game designers.
… My faith in the power of games to address complex societal issues such as climate change is rooted in my own experiences as a player. Games have given me the opportunity to inhabit vastly different personas, from a barbarian orc in a fantasy land to a citizen of a flooded continent. Each session is an escape into another world, and, with it, an exercise in empathy and problem-solving.”
Why role-playing games can spur climate action
Solving problems in a safe, collaborative environment can help us think out of the box and build empathy — crucial skills in a warming world.

Half of PlayStation's MAUs are still on the PS4

According to Stephen Totilo a few weeks ago, and recently confirmed by this Sony business presentation. But PS5 players spend more average hours playing so things are shifting, but hey there's still plenty of life left in the PS4 it seems. It's a solid device.

The same presentation also points to an in-development PS5 controller charging scheduler – following in the footsteps of Microsoft's grid-aware charging system. Better late than never. Anything more than that though they're keeping under their hat.

An interesting approach to saving power under Linux

The approach involves deliberately keeping CPU cores idle even when there’s work to be done. As a commenter points out, this does result in "slower" time to complete a given amount of work, meaning that it might end up just using the same amount of energy, spread out over a longer time, rather than saving overall consumption. But the more ability we have to alter the curves of energy consumption the better placed we will be to optimise for renewables, lower and higher times of grid intensity, etc. so I still find this very encouraging.

Extend your battery life with scx_rustland
Overview The CPU scheduler can play a significant role to save energy in the system. Typically we talk about Energy Aware Scheduling (EAS)…

Big new Nvidia server-scale GPU for AI stuff

Seems to be using absolutely oodles of power for data centre rendering and AI training? I'm struggling to understand what the use case is beyong more and faster AI? Impressive tech, of course, but at what cost...

Meanwhile, power demand in the US is growing, and the single largest component of that growth comes from data centres. Gee I wonder why that might be...

And just for some fun trivia, the average age of power grids in different global regions.


“Reference Framework For Calculating The Carbon Footprint Of Digital Campaigns

Do you run digital ad campaigns as part of your work? There's now a French reference guide you can apply to calculate the footprint of specific campaigns [PDF], with some very helpful clarifications and diagrams. Great illustrations! This seems super useful.

Climate Chaos Corner

Alright, so that's some GOOD news out of the way, it's time to brace ourselves for all the bad news and what's been happening in the atmosphere the past couple of weeks.

Heatwaves in SEAsia are now 45x more likely

This is an absolutely staggering detail, and it's a searing indictment that it seems ti have barely registered. This is life getting measurably harder, and more dangerous for billions.

Freak April heatwave in Southeast Asia ‘virtually impossible’ without climate crisis
Scientists say heatwaves are now 45 times more likely in South Asia, making life tougher for millions living in poverty

Mexico City is nearly out of water

Pakistan saw days over 52C (125.6F) last month

As Reuters reports:

In Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites that date back to the Indus Valley Civilization built in 2500 BC, temperatures rose as high as 52.2 C (126 F) over the last 24 hours, a senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Shahid Abbas told Reuters.

The reading is the highest of the summer so far, and approached the town's and country's record highs of 53.5 C (128.3 F) and 54 C (129.2 F) respectively.

Mohenjo Daro is a small town that experiences extremely hot summers and mild winters, and low rainfall, but its limited markets, including bakeries, tea shops, mechanics, electronic repair shops, and fruit and vegetable sellers, are usually bustling with customers.

But with the current heatwave, shops are seeing almost no footfall.

And iIllustrating the terrifying jump in sea surface temps

It's not looking good for the old coral reefs is it?

Government policy watch – some good news

Okay, so what are governments doing about it? Well, first of all, we saw in the past few weeks new research that claims the EU’s Green Deal has made a substantial impact on the Union’s emissions. Super, super encouraging. Keep up the pressure Europe!

EU’s Green Deal improved its climate performance: a 1.5°C pathway is close

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Government lost a court case brought by activists claiming the country's climate plans were “inadequate”. The court agreed, so I guess this means Scholz has to go back in the cupboard and root around for some extra ambition.

German government must amend climate plan, court rules – DW – 05/16/2024
A major state-supported environmental group won a suit against the German government, which will have to improve its climate protection plan after the court found it insufficient to achieve the country’s climate goals.

In the United States, the US SEC is facing a raft of legal challenges to its (frankly tame!) final proposal for mandatory climate disclosures. This article by DLA piper has some good analysis on the legal challenges, who is bringing them, and on what grounds. It seems that while the suits are being brought, the rules are paused (though they're not intended to start untill next year anyway), but the SEC says it will defend the rules vigorously. Fingers crossed.

My take is that if the SEC itself can't manage to get and hold onto disclosure rules this basic then Europe and, maybe the rest of the world, are going to end up imposing them on US businesses (particularly those that want to do business in Europe). And the way they get imposed externally will probably be much less orderly and more haphazard than otherwise. Remember, these aren't even mandates to change anything about these businesses, they're simply basic disclosures (and from my reading as a non-laywer a lot of the legal arguments again them look pretty flimsy at best, but hey US courts – y'know?). They're certainly nothing even approaching sufficient climate action. So its a bit bleak in the old US of A.

SEC stays climate rules: An overview of ongoing legal challenges | DLA Piper
We explore legal challenges that have arisen within the first month of the Climate Rules’ adoption.

World investment levels in FFs

This is a bit more encouraging – though one reading of this might be the deep inequity in access to renewable tech outside of the developed world. It's precisely Central & South America and Africa that stand to benefit the most from capital intensive renewable development that detaches them from expensive fossil fuels.

After the jump – George Miller on Cli-Fi, the environmental cost of making t-shirts and merch, and how LEGO is planning to make sustainability part of every employee's KPI.