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back to article Intel on the alert: Thick, acrid smog in China, India is EATING servers

Intel is reporting that server boards and connectors in India and China are suffering from corrosion due to the high levels of smog. The company's Free Press newsletter details a new set of problems that engineers have had to address at server farms in Asia, including unusually high levels of corrosion in wiring and circuit …

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Anonymous Coward

So..back in about 2009 I was working on a systemic issue in the Indian Subcontinent where a specific type of module for a router for $router_vendor were failing.

We collected something like 30 of these things from various different parts of the country, yet the root cause was still the same - the solder was corroding, and causing voltage to go out of spec, thus the card starting to go haywire.

We finally found root cause - extremely high ppm of sulphur in the air. Soooo, nothing new here, really. Sad, to be honest, however maybe'll spark them to start to clean up their act?

anon, as I should be.

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And another reason why nuclear should be used.

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Give me a Nuke Planet

Over a coal planet anyday

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or a giant threadmill with Greenpeacers in it... that would work too.

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"And another reason why nuclear should be used."

Utter rubbish. Desulphurisation tech is relatively cheap, effective and well understood, and can be retrofitted to existing plants with minimal disruption. Current mainstream nuclear plant on the other hand is vastly expensive, takes a long time to build, requires rigid oversight and skilled builders and operators, and is still often subject to substantial delays and cost over-runs.

And it's worth bearing in mind that quite often the atmospheric SO2 levels in developing countries are not due to power generation, but urban use of coal for heating and cooking, and industrial processes in which case the power source is largely as irrelevant as it is physically remote..

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Re: urban use of coal for heating and cooking

Seems to me that if those people could use electricity (meaning nuclear power) for their heating and cooking needs, they'd not need the coal, thereby removing most of the atmospheric SO2.

So yes, nuclear is still the best option, despite your concerns about cost overruns, time to build and expertise required.

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Re: urban use of coal for heating and cooking

"Seems to me that if those people could use electricity (meaning nuclear power) for their heating and cooking needs, they'd not need the coal, thereby removing most of the atmospheric SO2."

Then you'd be wrong. Biggest operator and builder of nuke plants is China, and still they regularly vie for the world leading position in air pollution. That's because new big power plants are being constructed to power their industrial revolution, and there needs to be a lot of change of both addional power plant capacity for domestic users, and the first time provision of a (relatively speaking) high capacity distribution network, plus new purchase of electric cookers and household heating. That would mostly be done by replacement of the older housing stock.

So the costs of resolving the local pollution sources are in the region of several tens of thousands of dollars per household on top of the costs of the power plant, and the limiting factor is local wealth. Put simply, residential users in developing countries can't afford it all at once.

Centralised fossil plant remains the most obvious, cheapest way of supplying power, and can still be done without unreasonable SO2 emissions and without excessive cost. Nuclear makes the unaffordability significantly worse, although it can be acceptable for supplying export focused industries (in effect developing nations pay for that).

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No nukes!

Nuclear?! But nuclear is *dangerous*!

It is infinitely better to cause all the people in the entire region severe health problems, and cause catastrophic damage to infrastructure and ecology across the entire continent than to risk the possibility that someone down the line may do something boneheadedly stupid that irradiates several acres of land.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No nukes!

Because it irradiated several HUNDRED to several THOUSAND acres of land, once you actually include the full uranium time/space ecosystem that will serve that single atomic plant, rather than pretending it does not exist.

And some of that contamination will be around for centuries, thank you very much.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No nukes!

The sad fact is that an "ongoing catastrophe" is economically manageable, while a single disaster isn't. The fallout (figuratively and politically) of Fukushima will hamper Japan for a long time. In China the children may die of asthma, but the economy thrives.

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Re: No nukes!

unlike the corpses of the people that die from lung infections from the fossil fuel plants, , at least they will have the decency to rot away in a much more ignorable time-frame.

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Re: No nukes!

IMHO the only way that 'Green' energy can become viable sole source of power is by reducing the human population to pre 1970 levels.

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Re: the full uranium time/space ecosystem

Wow !

Thank you for that mouthful. I will keep that kind of argument in mind for future use.

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Re: No nukes!

1970? Don't you mean pre-1870 levels? Or maybe pre-1070 levels?

Actually, if the world put all the resources it devotes to warmaking ("defense") into building massive solar plants in the Earth's most barren deserts, we could support current populations with completely renewable energy. Covering a mere hundredth of the Sahara desert alone would generate all the electricity that mankind uses today. Cover a few more percent to generate electricity in place of fossil-fuelled transportation and heating. The only thing that we'd have to completely give up is air travel. Long-distance ocean travel would become expensive or (and?) as impossible as the winds to timetable.

BTW the area that would need to be covered is about the same as the area of the planet that is already covered by roofs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No nukes!

"boneheadedly stupid that irradiates several acres of land."

So, your learned then? Bonehead!

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Re: No nukes!

Well Nigel 11 some say crawling out of the oceans was bad idea but I appluad your optimism. So in the spirit of friendship, curiosity and support of the Green vision for the New World Order we did a quick calculation on the back of a beermat. Using wikipedia to provide the area of the Sahara and covering it completely with half decent 80watt solar panels from a reputable provider we got a ballpark figure of 422 Gigawatts per annum. Figures for wind turbines or solar chimneys may be better but the numbers look way short of global requirements.

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Re: No nukes!

Everyone seems to forget that if we had enough renewable energy infrastructure to replace nuclear that it would itself destroy the climate by changing weather patterns, wind directions, sea currents, etc.

Bringing on an ice age is not greener then using nuclear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No nukes!

"422 Gigawatts per annum"

For funk's sake.

Do your calculations again (or reype the answer) bearing in mind that energy and power are not the same. [1]

When you've done that, please take into account the fact that

(a) no one's suggesting Desertec alone is a solution

(b) Desertec people are suggesting that there's a LOT of freely available energy there, it might make sense to see if we can use it constructively.

"within six hours, deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year" (source: Desertec - feel free to illustrate why the arithmetic is wrong, don't go into the politics and practicalities).

[1] From the holy book of Mackay: http://www.withouthotair.com/c2/page_24.shtml

Energy and power

Most discussions of energy consumption and production are confusing because of the proliferation of units in which energy and power are measured [snip]

The unit of energy I have chosen is the kilowatt-hour (kWh). This quantity is called “one unit” on electricity bills, and it costs a domestic user about 10p in the UK in 2008. [snip]

People use the two terms energy and power interchangeably in ordinary speech, but in this book we must stick rigorously to their scientific definitions. Power is the rate at which something uses energy. [continues]

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Re: Nigel 11 Re: No nukes!

"....into building massive solar plants in the Earth's most barren deserts...." Three problems with that Green dream. Firstly, you ignore the cost and losses of distribution (it's a long way to get electricity from the Mexian desert up to Alaska or down to Argentina, for example). Secondly, a large chunk of the deserts are situated in areas with high levels of violence (and we're not just talking Islamist terror in North Africa, there are Marxist nutters in the Indian and Mexican deserts), which means you probably have zero chance of even getting the project up and running let alone keeping it from being routinely trashed. Thirdly, deserts tend to be dusty, which reduces the effectiveness of solar panels massively, and deserts also happen to be very short of the water you would need to clean the dust off with. Nice try, but just another Greenpecker avoidance of the fact nucleur is simply the best answer.

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Maybe now that the pollution is affecting machines the communist government will take action

They didn't care enough about the people to act to stem pollution.

Maybe now that the pollution is affecting machines the Chinese 'communist' and Indian 'capitalist' governments will take action.

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Re: Maybe now that the pollution is affecting machines the communist government will take action

Action? Perhaps the application of elephant ivory, or internal organs of endangered species will help.

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Simplifed semiconductor fab

Apply mask to wafer

Open window to etch wafer

Wash

repeat

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Won't someone think of the children . . . (no, really)

What shits me, and shits me a lot, is that people keep arguing back-and-forth about climate change - if it's real, if it's anthropogenic, if targets are right, if 'green tape' is strangling the almighty economy (peace be upon it) - and all the while pollution is causing real, measurable, ecological, sociological and, yes, economic, damage. Not to mention the very, very real health issues.

Let's have a 12 month cease-fire on anthropogenic global warming and focus on dealing with the immediate, practical and indisputable issue of the anthropogenic poisoning of our air, our waters, our environment and ourselves.

Seeing the way this world is going, well, sometimes I'm quite relieved that I won't have children.

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Re: dan 1980 Re: Won't someone think of the children . . . (no, really)

".....focus on dealing with the immediate, practical and indisputable issue of the anthropogenic poisoning of our air, our waters, our environment and ourselves....." Actually not us at all. The West has quite stringent controls on pollution, it's Asia that has the problem. Stop shrieking at the West and go try it in Tianamen Square.

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Re: dan 1980 Won't someone think of the children . . . (no, really)

Come now, Mr. Bryant. The West does not hold the high moral ground here. The only reason we're not choking ourselves to death on coal particles is because we starting using nuclear. Oh, and because we have attained a level of revenue that allows us to pay others to pollute in our place. Indeed, we have simply moved our factories to other countries, leaving them to deal with the issues while we gorge on the produce in our shiny, clean cities (well, ahem, mostly clean).

But all those factories are not making things for them, they're making things for us. That we throw away after a year or less, or stow in the attack and forget about until the next garage sale.

Asia may have a pollution problem, but we are part of it.

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Re: Won't someone think of the children . . . (no, really)

I've thought this for the long time.

The real "Inconvenient Truth" is not that there might be anthropogenic global warming, but that there ARE, RIGHT NOW, real, quantifiable health issues with fossils.

Aside from the economic idiocy of signing over our energy security to Saudi oil and Russian gas, there are clear and proven health risks associated with a whole raft of avoidable modern industrial processes.

Why is California so hot on emissions? Well because their topology traps pollution over the city, same for Mexico City. New Delhi is the first place I've seen a sunset where the sun didn't actually go below the horizon - just got closer and closer to the ground until the smog blocked it out.

But that crap is still floating around you whether you're in London or Delhi. It's just at a low enough density that you're not constantly aware of it. Funnily enough, we don't use coal train on the Underground any more, because it's obviously bad. Older buses are little better, but it's outside, and we're not forced to address the poison pouring out the back.

A lot of that comes down to particulate matter (certainly when you're discussing asthma and endemic incidence of respiratory complaints, etc), but gases play their part as well.

TfL runs a fleet of 8000 buses, mostly diesel. Converting them to electric or hydrogen would have a direct and measurable impact on air quality in London, especially if the London Taxi Company joined in as well (there's 21,000 black cabs running round London, of which 5 are prototypical fuel cell models).

Yes, okay, the electric comes from fossils, but from an industrial power station boasting far better PM filtering, de-sulpherization, etc than can be squeezed into a car's exhaust system (even assuming the car is maintained properly), and when (if) the politicos pull their finger out and build some nukes, then the infrastructure will accept their power just as readily as it accepted coal-derived electric.

No doubt someone will point out there are 2.5million cars in London, and sorting 30,000 vehicles is a drop in the ocean, but of course most cars are driven to/from work and are off for >20hours of of the day/night. Bus and taxi fleets run almost 24/7, with vehicles handed from one driver to the next to maximise utilisation and ROI. Cutting their emissions has a far greater impact than those of commuter cars.

Taxis are probably better suited to Hydrogen unless they're depot based. Buses could use either - being based at depots means a sane design would allow the batteries to be unloaded off a roll-out sled in 5 minutes and replaced with a charged unit allowing turn-arounds no slower than diesel units.

Tesco understood this, recognising that Modecs, even with their limited range, were perfectly suited to in-town deliveries, where you spend half your time idling at traffic lights anyway, only cover a few miles a day (and they don't want to deliver at night because customers are asleep, so you can charge overnight).

Forget global warming, and think about local level air quality and environmental pollution.

It's funny that Al Gore completely missed the point with "An Inconvenient Truth" - most of what he advocates is absolutely necessary, but he could have justified it all with proven case studies and verifiable fact, rather than campaigning on the back of a contentious and debated phenomena.

I've used London there because TfL numbers were easy to get. Scale that out to a location that suffers major smog and pollution issues and the benefits become clear.

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Re: dan 1980 Won't someone think of the children . . . @Pascal Monett

"Come now, Mr. Bryant. The West does not hold the high moral ground here. The only reason we're not choking ourselves to death on coal particles is because we starting using nuclear."

Oi, Pascal! Whilst I heartily approve of you (or anyone else) disagreeing with Matt B, you're wrong. Outside of France, a small and ever decreasing percentage of Western power is being supplied by nuclear plant, as a handful of new plant is more than offset by retirements either on political grounds (Germany and others) or simple life expiry (UK, US). But we're not choking.

There's plenty of effective emissions control tech that mean we can breathe whilst still burning coal (overlooking nice clean, easy to use gas), and nuclear has little part in that. Personally I love nuclear as a technology - it is clean, it is safe. But it's eye wateringly expensive and complex.

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Anonymous Coward

to rh587

A well thought out, rational, balanced and studied response. Please leave your login at the door on the way out.

:-)

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Re: Won't someone think of the children . . . @rh587

"Forget global warming, and think about local level air quality and environmental pollution."

Well, the air quality on the London Underground often fails street level pollution limits. Focusing on fossil emissions is ratrher pointless when electric transport is just as polluting for the users.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Won't someone think of the children . . . @rh587

"the air quality on the London Underground often fails street level pollution limits"

Isn't that largely because the street level air fails too, and add on the extra from sparking high currents and various other unpleasantness, all in confined spaces with limited ventilation, and the result is really rather predictable, and really rather irrelevant to the bigger picture (unless you're actual Underground staff you're not spending *that* long underground, and LU seem to be doing their best to get rid of their staff so that'll be fixed too).

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Anonymous Coward

re rh587

9 out of 10. Could do better.

2 marks deducted for failing to mention diesel HGV effects on pollution (cyclists? another story). Bring back the GLC lorry ban, 1 mark refunded for leaving it out for the sake of brevity, because you understand how popular stuff longer than four lines is aroud here.

So, 9 out of 10. See me afterwards. There's a bloke called Boris we need to talk to.

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Re: Pascal Moaner Re: dan 1980 Won't someone think of the children . . . (no, really)

"....Asia may have a pollution problem, but we are part of it.." Firstly, are you trying to insist no-one in China or India owns a phone, PC, or car? Secondly, the Chinese and Indians are not thick, they have known about the pollution problem they have been building up for years, it's just they have chosen to ignore it in the hope they can shaft the West for the bill.

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Re: Won't someone think of the children . . . @rh587

"Isn't that largely because the street level air fails too, and add on the extra from sparking high currents and various other unpleasantness, all in confined spaces with limited ventilation, "

Not really. The problem is detritus from pests, rubbish, brake dust, rail and wheel dust, conductor shoe dust, motor, drive and flange lubricants, and one must assume a lot of human dust and residues. Above ground these get washed away by rain or blown by the wind, once down the tube they seem to stay for years. If you want to see that tube air quality can still be foul independently of the surface conditions, take the tube on cold, windy clear days above ground when the local pollutants are well dispersed, and you'll still get a good dose of Bakerloo nose (the condition that turns your airways and your snot black, named after the famously inhumane conditions of the underground line of the same name).

TFL do have cleaning trains, but they don't seem to have that much effect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pascal Moaner dan 1980 Won't @Matt

Oi Matt! You almost got an upvote for "Pascal Moaner", but then I thought life's too short to encourage you.

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Anonymous Coward

Clean Air Act, Alkali Act, etc

When British industry (and coal burning homes) started causing problems like this, the introduction of laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Alkali Act mostly sorted it out.

Obviously British manufacturing industry has largely moved to China, where it is said to be "cheap" to manufacture, especially so because of the costs the global corporates don't have to pick up in China. If the global corporates had to obey the principle of "the polluter pays", they may never have found it worthwhile to offshore production to China anyway.

21st century corporatism. Don'tcha love it.

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Re: Anonymous Cluetard Re: Clean Air Act, Alkali Act, etc

".....British manufacturing industry has largely moved to China, where it is said to be "cheap" to manufacture, especially so because of the costs the global corporates don't have to pick up in China. If the global corporates had to obey the principle of "the polluter pays"...." Yes, of course, because EVERY polluting factory in China and India is owned and run by greedy, white, Western capitalists, right? Get a clue. The brown and yellow contingent have proven more than happy to do the majority of polluting by their choice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anonymous Cluetard Clean Air Act, Alkali Act, etc

" EVERY polluting factory in China and India is owned and run by greedy, white, Western capitalists, right?"

Who said anything about ownership, never mind "EVERY" factory?

If Foxconn (and many others less well known) didn't have big high volume corporate customers in the West, how big would they be?

If Foxconn's (and others') products being sold for use in the West were still made in the West subject to Western rules, how would it affect pollution at a local and global level? How would it affect Western employment prospects? How would it affect corporate balance sheets?

"The West has quite stringent controls on pollution, it's Asia that has the problem. Stop shrieking at the West and go try it in Tianamen Square."

Exactly. If corporates move production of X from US/Europe to China to 'save money', there are other consequences too, but they don't all show on the corporate bottom line.

(And don't try to tell anyone that the factories in question are mainly supplying local Chinese markets).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Matt Bryant

" The brown and yellow contingent have proven more than happy to do the majority of polluting by their choice"

That's what Johnny Foreigner deserves, eh Matt? And you know something else, they don't wash their hands, either!

The low environmental standards in China and India reflect the limited economic, technical and governance structures that prevail in developing countries, and which are slowly changing as they have the ability and resources to do better. People in this country didn't "choose" for the 1952 London pea souper that killed 4,000 people, it was simply a product of society and industry at the time, and that's how things are in emerging nations today.

They could import Western style pollution control and regulations, certainly, along with the capital to construct those far more expensive facilities. But then there would be no industry there, production would remain in Europe, and "the brown and yellow contingent" could go back where you evidently think they belong, in the paddy fields, or starving picturesquely to fill up your news bulletins.

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Re: Still Clusless Re: Anonymous Cluetard Clean Air Act, Alkali Act, etc

"....(And don't try to tell anyone that the factories in question are mainly supplying local Chinese markets)." What, becaue none of the 1.3 billion people (about 19% of the World's population) in China or the 1.2bn in India owns a phone, a laptop, a car, a fridge, or a washing machine? Get a clue, stop rebleating the usual anti-corporate bilge spoonfed to you, and stop and realise the majority of the pollution in Asia is by Asian companies, not The Nasty Global Conglomerate bogeyman.

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Re: Absolutely Clueless Re: @Matt Bryant

"....The low environmental standards in China and India reflect the limited economic, technical and governance structures that prevail in developing countries...." Complete male genetalia. All it reflects is their willingness to ignore pollution in striving to catch up economically with the West (and line their pockets at the same time). Please do pretend that exactly the same data on pollution has not been available to the governments of Asia from bodies such as the UN for decades. China and India have both spent massively on such high-tech science as nucleur programs, even space projects, so the idea that they could somehow just be "too dumb 'cos they're not developed" to understand pollution is simply too obtuse for words. All you want to do is pat them on the head and give them a free pass at our expense because you have a stupid assumption (born of ignorance and arrogance) that they are still "inferior" and need to be treated like children. Worse, you no doubt also want the West to cough up for their polluting, simply because you like the idea of penalising Western companies. Which completely ignores the fact that such Western companies are usually publically listed and therefore invested in and owned by people ALL OVER THE WORLD.

"....People in this country didn't "choose" for the 1952 London pea souper that killed 4,000 people, it was simply a product of society and industry at the time...." Wrong, it was a product of our lack of knowledge of the impact of such industry at the time. We now know better and have implemented pollution controls, but China and India have also had access to exactly the same research into pollution for years (they do have the Internet, you know), they have simply chosen to ignore it so they could advance their economies as fast as possible.

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Re: Absolutely @ Clueless Matt Bryant

""....People in this country didn't "choose" for the 1952 London pea souper that killed 4,000 people, it was simply a product of society and industry at the time...." Wrong, it was a product of our lack of knowledge of the impact of such industry at the time."

Wrong yourself, Matt. The effects of sulphurous fumes and particulates were understood to be harmful decades before the 1950s, and in fact Battersea Power Station had FGD kit installed in the 1930s, which certainly wasn't for any power generation purpose. Taken out during the war and not refitted, but it illustrates that the harmful effects of untreated coal emissions were actually well understood.

Curiously, the pea soupers were a similar situation to India and China today - power generation in the UK at that time did use coal, but it was not really the bulk of the problem, which was primarily domestic use of coal, on a large scale and burnt inefficiently so that the emissions were particularly heavy on particulates, NOx, SOx and uncombusted hydrocarbons.

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Re: Ledswinger Re: Absolutely @ Clueless Matt Bryant

I see you are just determined to ignore the fact the Asians have had fifty years to learn from the pollution record of the West.

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Anonymous Coward

But Wait, there's more

This acrid pollution gets into the components they create and changes the tolerance and operational characteristics of the part. Prime example. We had a batch of PC cables that heated up and melted the connector and some of the cables. Quite a stinky hot mess and potential fire hazard for the customer. Turns out with some microscopic forensic work the 12 v and negative leads were really close to each other and there is a glued joint line running between them. Just a little metallic impurity in that glue or on the plastic pieces or even the metal leads would allow voltage leakage and create the melt down that happened.

Remember, that smog gets into what they make. And the rest of the world buys it, then wears it and uses it, seemingly unaware of the potential damage. Your newborns jammies? Oh, yeah, they were made in a clean room .. sure .. uhuh.... That pillow case you put your face on at night? You get the picture.

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Anonymous Coward

The world will only react to global warming

If facebook goes offline.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The world will only react to global warming

If facebook goes offline.

Now you tell us... if we'd realised polluting the planet could bring about benefits for humanity such as facebook going offline we'd have started campaigns to promote it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The world will only react to global warming

"The world will only react to global warming

If facebook goes offline."

Don't be stupid, Fakebook is still used by a very small minority of the earth population. Old sad fakebookers would be bothered. Those with a REAL LIFE such as I would not even notice.

Back to your iFool so you can update your status for those 1000's of friends you see on a regular basis.

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Anonymous Coward

So my LED/LE lighting is not for the good of the environment, but to keep my ever growing bill down. Stop recycling stop any environmental initiative until the Asian countries do want is right and stop acting like a virus.

Not that I care, I don't want kids so I'm not leaving anything once I'm gone. Your children(s children) are screwed tho! I'll be in a box by then.

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