How Computer Hardware Is Tied Up With Climate Change

DVIDSHUB /CC BY 1.0

An aspect of climate change we're already beginning to feel is extreme weather situations, from harsher droughts to more dramatic flooding. And when it comes to technology, there's no more real wake-up call for how interlinked our gadgets are with the weather than when factories are flooded out, as has happened in Thailand as shown in the photo above taken on October 22, 2011. As Thailand struggles with flooding, electronics companies are facing a drought of products.

Thailand has experienced incredible amounts of flooding since July, which has left hundreds dead and billions in damage.

BusinessWeek notes that around 9,850 factories have been flooded, which include factories in the supply chains of companies like Apple and Toyota.

Dvice points out, "Western Digital, Hitachi, Seagate, and Toshiba are all facing direct production issues as a result of the flooding, and even Korean companies such as Samsung are having trouble getting the specific components that they need to build their own drives, like a motor — responsible for spinning the disc in hard disc drives."

The first priority of concern is the lives of the people in the area. But we are also reminded where our electronics come from -- and it's not just the companies whose names are etched into the cover. Our electronics are made possible by people who are living in areas that are subject to extreme weather conditions that are affected in some part by climate change.

Dvice writes, "Most customers have about two weeks of inventory, and distributors may have an additional two weeks, but beyond that, things are looking gloomy. On Apple's earnings call this week, CEO Tim Cook said that he's 'virtually certain there will be an overall industry shortage of disk drives as a result of the disaster.'

"According to Thailand's prime minister, the flooding may take up to six weeks to recede, and after that, who knows how long it's going to be before factories resume production and there's enough logistical infrastructure back up to get drives and parts out of the country. On top of all that, China's cuts to rare earth supplies are just going to make everything worse by the time the holiday season rolls around. This isn't just speculation, either: it's already getting bad out there."

Yes, it's already getting bad out there for electronics companies and people who are trying to buy up the gadgets -- but it's also already getting bad out there for places that face monsoons or seasonal flooding. And for people living in areas with dry seasons that are becoming intense droughts. And for people living along coastlines that are seeing the waves lap farther and farther up the shoreline.

The shortage of electronic devices we're likely to face through the end of the year and possibly into next year is hopefully a big fat slap in the face to tell us yep, we need to care about the fact that things are changing around the world because it affects all of us in ways we can't even count.

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Tags: Electronics | Gadgets | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects

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