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How Climate Change Could Fry the Internet

It happened in Australia, in the middle of yet another epic heat wave: after air conditioning systems failed in a Perth data centre, thousands of customers of the country’s second-largest DSL Internet service provider “discovered that the Internet had melted,” Grist reports.

“A company statement blamed the outage of its Perth data centre on the partial failure of both the main and backup air-conditioning systems,” Bogle writes. “Exacerbating the problem was the heat, which caused iiNet to shut down some of its servers as a precautionary measure.”

Past news reports have pointed to buckling train rails, melting asphalt, and sagging power lines to illustrate the impact of climate change on physical infrastructure. “But extreme weather, the scarcity and the rising cost of water, as well as high temperatures, could be bad business for technology companies,” she writes.

“Far from being anything as ethereal as ‘the cloud’ suggests, the Internet is made of wire, metal, and yes, tubes—and is as susceptible to physical damage from the elements as a power station or phone line.”