MayFirst and Climate Justice

Hi All,

I wanted to start a thread to discuss MayFirst’s relationship to climate justice.

A few thoughts to get the conversation going.

And this website is a great source of inspiration, it runs completely off solar power and was designed to use as little energy as possible. Here’s a great article on the importance of making change to address the climate crisis collectively - https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/07/we-cant-do-it-ourselves.html

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Nearly all of our servers are hosted in telehouse’s Chelsea colo center in Manhattan. To my knowledge, they do not use green energy - but it would be worth asking them if that’s an option or if they have any plans to adopt green energy options.

I’d also like us to start considering other colo facilities entirely. I don’t like having all our eggs in one basket - (one colo, one city, one country). One political or environment disaster could really wipe us out. Once our new infrastructure is in place, we should be in a much better place to spready our servers out to additional colo centers. So, picking ones with greener energy seems like a good criteria to add to the mix

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Hello, I would just like to chip in and tell you that we at PODER are also interested in reducing the environmental impact of our actions and would consider using providers that follow this logic. This is still not an enforced institutional policy, but it will likely become one in the following months, so having more information about the actions that mayfirst and their providers are taking in this regard would be very welcome.

Thanks.

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I totally agree in investigating and exploring our alternative options for sourcing our electrical energy however if we are concerned with our environmental impact then giving serious consideration to how and why we currently consume the most energy should be a priority.

One of the things that uses the most energy in our rack are the spinning disk RAID arrays used for member storage. Storing large amount of files on the server inevitably means more energy consumption and this is compounded by the backups we create for members. Upgrading to solid state drives could use less energy but are prohibitively expensive for our current budget and still do not have the storage capacity of spinning disks and would require adding more machines to meet the same storage quantities, which itself would add more energy consumption. E-waste is another consideration, where do our old drives go once they are retired?

I think finding ways to use the technology resources we have more efficiently is where we can make the most immediate changes to our climate impact. This is very much related to the talk we will have today about our infrastructure changes which unfortunately was planned before the date was set for today’s climate change protests. Still, I think the conversation we will have today is very relevant.

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FYI, we are members of the Association for Progressive Communications (an international organization) which has released this outcome as part of their strategic plan: https://www.apc.org/en/node/35880/#6

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So it sounds like the most meaningful changes we can make is connected with the infrastructure overhaul happening.

  1. Reducing the energy we consume by upgrading to more efficient technology
  2. Distribute the locations of our servers to more colo facilities, prioritizing ones that use clean, renewable energy

@jaimev and @jamie I’d be willing to research colo facility candidates if I could get pointed in some helpful directions and have a list of criteria I should keep in mind when comparing possible locations. Would that be helpful for me to do?

Hi Clayton - yes, that would be super helpful.

We are probably going to purchase a new server in the next few months that we will squeeze into the chelsea colo center (and will be exploring the option/price/value of getting all SSDs in that machine).

Beyond that server… here’s some general info to help with the research.

We currently manage two kinds of servers: proxy servers and data servers.

The proxy servers are out of our colo center and hosted with providers that specialize in defending against DDOS attacks. We host our authoritative DNS servers this way (they are not technically proxy servers but because they rely on the UDP protocol that can be spoofed they are easy targets). In addition, we maintain a proxy server outside our colo to proxy web traffic and MX traffic. These servers generally do not hold sensitive data, they are not run on encrypted hard disks, and we are not in control of the hardware.

The data servers, on the other hand, are all in our chelsea colo center, are run on hardware we control and all have encrypted disks.

This division will become more definitive once we finish our infrastructure upgrade (scheduled for summer 2020) and all of our email and web services will go through proxies before hitting our data servers.

I’m saying all of this because… now is a good time to research colocation providers for our proxy servers (that offer DDOS protection) and see if any of them also offer green energy. We currently use Awknet, US Dedicated, and Reliable Servers. I’d be curious if any of them offer green technology. It’s not terribly difficult to move from one company to another and we are currently in a spot where we could put a new proxy server to use.

On the other hand, it’s not a great time to research data centers for our data servers, since our current infrastructure cannot handle having data servers in multiple locations, although our new infrastructure should be able to manage it. Post Summer 2020 we should start researching those options. That’s a much harder task - since we need a higher degree of trust in the company managing the servers. I think in addition to green energy, we should also be considering movement politics and whether they are organize cooperatively (I have an eye on Koumbit as the kind of place that might fit the bill).

Let me know what you think!

jamie