back to article UK media: 'Met Office computer will destroy the world'

The UK media has plunged into an unusually cretinous feeding frenzy following the "news" that the Met Office headquarters complex in Devon - owing to the presence of a lot of supercomputing hardware there - is considered to lie at 103rd place in a table ranking nearly 30,000 large UK buildings by carbon-emissions footprint. …


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  1. MarkOne
    Paris Hilton

    Oh for f*ck's sake

    Says someone from The Register, which has been posting equally sensationalist news stories lately...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news...

    millions of free daily rag sheets dump tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon the atmosphere.

  3. mmiied


    show me one "sensationalist" news story on reg witch is

    1. not a real story

    2. not scarcastic (all most all of boot notes)

    3. not an Analysis pice like this one

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Man Drax is an amazing thing, went there a while back and it was providing over 7% of the whole nations power. What a place. Can go as high as 13%. And it's independent. And they're investing heavily in local biomass. So in a few years they'll be pumping out 10%+ of the nations renewables.

  5. Steve John
    Thumb Up

    As usual...

    ... a well written and well reasoned article from Lewis Page.

    If more of society read articles like this rather than the sensationalist/unresearched/skewed toss in the newspapers, I think we'd be in a much better state.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution of Britain today

    #1 Complaining about the weather

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Its our fault - and bad analysis

    This computer is providing a national service, therefore the output should be divided by the 61 million or so people in the UK who use the weather, not just blamed on a bunch of people who could do better forecasting by studing the entrails of a sacrificial goat. And if you're not using your proper share of the weather, get outside and use some more. Go on, do your bit.

    After all if this computer didnt exist we couldn't use the weather so well as we do now and would not benefit from the changes that this computer (insignificant to the one that is to follow it, the desing parameters of which it is almost unworthy to compute) has programmed into our climate for the future.

    Tourists may be given a free ride in respect of using their share of our weather as they have travelled quite a way for the privilege of doing so and we should be courteous to our invited guests.

    I dont know if the first flames will be from the greenies or the heatwave from the encroaching desert, but I'm ready with my water-bombs.

  8. The Cube

    Just what we should expect from the muppets at DECC

    The same idiots who wrote the game of pass the carbon that they call CRC?

    In dealings with DECC over their proposed policies I can honestly say that the only thing that exceeds their arrogance (they are in the political ascendacy over DEFRA) is their incompetence. DECC could not be relied on to find their own arses with both hands and an Ordnance Survey map.

    Further they can't even explain how their own policies will work, although apparently being unable to explain how a policy will work does not, magically, prevent them claiming that it will deliver their goal. Of course, this all becomes much clearer and makes more sense when you realise that their goal is to scramble up the political ladder over the corpse of DEFRA, output policy measered not by outcome or quality but in kg of paper and keep their noses in the trough of the public purse.

    The worst thing about DECC is that they are squandering any remaining credibility for sustainable policies and wasting the opportunity the legislature have ( / had).

  9. Gary 23

    National Physical Laboratory - birthplace of the internet.?

    I thought it was created at Stamford University in the USA?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I was there

    On a training course at the Met office earlier this week I actually SAW (through a window) the allegedly offending hyper-mega-computers (for there are two), and they were distinctly unimpressive: perhaps the flashing lights and whirring tape spools had been dropped from the spec in an attempt to cut carbon emissions. Somehow, I don't think they were coal-powered - at least, they looked sort of electrical.

    But it's one beautiful building.

    Black helicopter and anonymous as there are Official Secrets Act signs all over the place ...

  11. censored

    Straw Men

    Of course, it's easy to point at any single source and condemn it. But what you have to look at is, USEFUL energy and energy waste.

    No-one is going to complain that a life-support unit of a hospital produces a tonne of CO2. But they would complain if the administrative wing produced it.

    If the met office computer wasn't doing anything overnight but was left on anyway, I'd suggest that it was worth mentioning. Otherwise, while it's doing useful (and some might say essential) computing, without wasting too much energy, then it's fine.

  12. this

    The weather

    Actually it's been a rather good summer. Most figs for 10 years, (I'm in Norfolk,UK) and the fig tree likes summer. The harvest was in weeks ago...

    If you keep telling people (actually it seems more like a nervous tic afflicting half the population) that it's been a lousy summer they all seem to believe it.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @gary 23

    That would be "Stanford" University (nice place, well worth a visit),

    The NPL did pioneering work on packet switching, which was also being done at ARPA, in the 1960s. It's debatable exactly who invented which bits (except the name, which was definitely NPL). Stanford gets the credit for the name "Internet" coined by Vint Cerf when he was there in the 70's, but the ARPANET existed before that.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Coal Powered Computers?

    Surely all computers in the UK are powered by a combination of coal, gas and nuclear, together with a smaller percentage of renewables and other fuels?

    The "energy usage per square metre compared to other buildings of the same type" cannot, by definition, be used to compare buildings of different type; its just bollocks to do so. Quick, tell the Daily Mail about that school though; yet another reason why the National Curriculum will be the death of England!

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Puppets .... Stringing along in Tales. MeThinks we are worth more that .... and we can handle IT.

    " Oh for f*ck's sake ... Says someone from The Register, which has been posting equally sensationalist news stories lately..." .... By MarkOne Posted Friday 28th August 2009 14:28 GMT

    And, MarkOne, you wouldn't believe the true ones they are sitting on .... for whatever dumb reason.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Put numbers on something

    then those who don't understand things can make judgement calls - doesn't matter they neither understand what the numbers mean or how to compare them properly (i.e. what other numbers may be required they don't know)

    and if there is one thing nu Labour/Gordon Brown has been obsessed with - it's putting a number on things

  17. Anonymous John

    Centre justification

    Never trust a spreadsheet that is centre justified.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nonetheless, I always wondered... much contribution the climate-analysis computers were making to the environment. Even if it's nonsense, it's amusing.

    I'm hazier on the Natural History Museum angle, though. It's a honking great building and not very double-glazed, but I wasn't aware of it being dominated by air conditioning or heating last I looked. I can't exactly imagine Dippy shivering.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    @The Cube - look forward to more

    CRC promises more of the same, beating up government departments for using power as part of the overall onslaught against large users i.e. the ones with half-hourly meters.

    This is more tax-on-tax bullshit. The producers are already paying a tax through the european emission trading scheme (tax1). They sell power to large users, who now have to buy credits for using the power (tax2).

    still, its not as if the registration process is highly open to subversion by eco pressure groups....

  20. Dave Bell

    NPL and the Internet

    It looks like we may have had some of the key ideas first and, as usual, it was the Americans who were willing to spend the money.

  21. gerryg

    @ Gary 23

    While perhaps a slight exaggeration to say that NPL invented the internet, they did invent one of the key underlying techiques, packet switching

  22. Chronos Silver badge

    Re: National Physical Laboratory - birthplace of the internet.?

    It was, however, the birthplace of the atomic clock, so I suppose you could stretch that to NTP ;o)

  23. wsm
    Thumb Down

    Next on our list...

    Let's see, any need for climate-control to preserve national treasures, conduct proper laboratory procedures, heal the sick--all of those need to go. After all, they just aren't energy efficient.

    Four our next leap in logic, let's eliminate all nighttime lighting, keep ambulances from speeding, maybe even put everyone on bicycles.

    It's Earth first, isn't it?

  24. Eddie Johnson

    I've got this one gents

    >>No-one is going to complain that a life-support unit of a hospital produces a tonne of CO2. But they would complain if the administrative wing produced it.

    I will, if the patient is over 60 or feeble minded.

  25. Dave 38
    Paris Hilton

    what now?

    holy shit! i almost cared. sigh

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    interesting but a bit misguided

    How can you compare energy consumers with produces? Where do you think the energy to run the Met Office and all the other buildings comes from?

    It may be useful to compare a building's or institution's energy requirements and carbon footprint in relation to its benefit to society. Without the Met Office's climate predictions we probably wouldn't be concerned with emissions in the first place: this use of energy may prove invaluable.

    Obviously many people benefit from the carbon expended on their behalf in hospitals, but perhaps the MOD and the Tate Modern should rethink their energy use?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I could say something...

    ...but I'm not allowed to (guess why!) but power use is taken seriously at the Met Office, and they are always looking at how to reduce what is used, or at least get more results without using any more.

    Anon. natch.

  28. gannett

    Same price tag as 7 years ago

    A couple of things on the BBC news article about this story. Firstly yesterday they had a picture of the previous ukmet NEC computer rather than the current IBM system. The soraway Sun had the right picture.

    Secondly the price tag. At £30m this seems to have been the price for a big "super" for the last few years. Back in 2002 Ukmet paid GBP 27.5 M for the previous NEC + services.

    BTW The Ukmet machine from '94 was a 16 Gflop Cray C90. About what an Intel Quadcore Q6600 PC can do these days. C90 price tag £30M, PC Price tag £350.

  29. Brett Brennan 1

    British Library destroying the world?

    Already been filmed: "Read or Die" the anime and the telly series "Read or Dream" pretty much put paid to this scenario.

  30. GreyWolf

    The Weather @By This

    Where in the world did Lewis Page spend his summer? Indoors? In Wales? Here in Suffolk we have not had measurable rain in 5 weeks. The air temp has been above 30C many days, and not gone much below 23 C, even at night.. This summer has barbequed the humans, never mind the steaks.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Schroedingers Climate Change

    I'll get me coat

  32. G Fan

    @Eddie Johnson

    >I will, if the patient is over 60 or feeble minded.

    So what should we do about Parliament, with a high incidence of both?

  33. James Pickett

    Pot/kettle interface

    >the BBC tells us that "it produces 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year"

    Perhaps the Beeb would like to reveal what its webservers produce (not to mention the computers of all the users)?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    @Anon: Man Drax?

    Wasn't he in he James Bond, something about space shuttles? Or are you one about "Mandies", the not-so wonder drug?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    maybe it would make sence to...

    ...find out if carbon actually did harm the planet before we take all sorts of initiatives to stop it. In the menatime we could spend the money and resources on actualy helping people or giving ministers and PMs pay raises.

  36. TeeCee Gold badge

    What it does tell us.

    Obviously we should immediately knock down all those old buildings, like the Natural History museum and replace them with modern ones that are well insulated and more energy efficient to keep the CO2 botherers happy.

    Or, better still, get the climate change nazis in one place, tell 'em we like our architectural diversity and that they can shove their energy efficiency tables up their collective arses*.

    *With a copy of the league tables so shoved, it will no longer be possible for the sun to shine from same and thus this action will be an important contributor to the fight against global warming.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Drax bashing and double counting


    You labour the point about coal-fired power stations being far bigger polluters than any of the buildings on this list, but Drax or any other fossil fuel power stations aren't emitting CO2 for the hell of it, or for their own operational requirements. They act as proxies for the rest of us, including those buildings on the list, so where you're comparing the two carbon footprints, you're counting the same CO2 twice.

    AC, as I used to work in the industry, but I'm trying not to be biased!

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. elderlybloke

    In New Zealand we don't

    have this type of environmental information.

    I must get some government dept. to get onto this project without delay.

    It is almost certainly essential to save the planet.

    Although it may already be too late.

  40. John H Woods

    @if you keep telling people it's been a lousy summer

    ooh, it's been so nice, here in norfolk/suffolk/@rse end of nowhere, where can you have spent your summer? indoors? No folks, it has been a rubbish summer (the 6-7 weeks the kids are off school). I think daylight inches of precipitation per person would be a good measure ... anyone want to hazard a guess? or the inverse of the number of non-abandoned barbecues per week on a national level. But 'it was nice in norfolk' / on the south coast? who cares? just means fewer elderly people will die off.

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