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Korban Dalam Dialog Peradaban tentang Sustainability?
22 Juni 2009, 11:04 am
Filed under: Isu Kesehatan, Isu Lingkungan Hidup

Berikut ini sebuah artikel menarik sebagai bahan renungan tentang wacana sustainability (Mohon maaf, artikel ini masih dalam bahasa aslinya). Artikel diikuti dengan sebuah komentar dalam bahasa Indonesia.

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When It Comes to Servers. Is Lead Really So Bad?

“I met a guy on a plane last month who has a career testing electronic components for the military and aerospace and setting standards for reliability. He told me about the new European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) standard, which contains provisions outlawing lead in motherboards and a host of commercial and consumer electronic equipment. All very high sounding — lead is poisonous, protecting the individual, and so on. Yet the replacement of lead with pure tin directly is not without its own problems: It leads to much higher incidences of unreliability.

In what way? how about shorting out the entire motherboard? How about frying the hardware in one fell swoop? Or maybe just those annoying little hardware bugs you can’t explain.

For an interesting demonstration of tin degrading in the span of one day, take a look at this video on YouTube.
But it gets even worse, tin forms tiny whiskers that grow over time — sometimes starting after a day, sometimes after many years — and these eventually trigger a short circuit in electronics. This isn’t a one-off.
It is a well-known phenomenon that has been documented since the 1940s. A team at the University of Maryland has been studying tin whiskers and tin degradation for years.

Now this could well have happened inside your server, blade or laptop that failed unexpectedly. I had a brand new Dell laptop a couple of years back, and the motherboard shut down all of a sudden. Nobody could
explain the failure other than the generality of a faulty motherboard.
But for the past few years, most computer electronics have had lead-free solder. Pure tin solder has gone from nowhere to a majority share in just a few years. And unreliability might be the price we have to pay.

It might be coincidence, but blade enclosures are designed so that WHEN a failure happens, one blade is always spare as a failover (i.e., the system is now engineered for the expected unreliability). While failover itself isn’t a bad idea, when did we decide to accept failure as a fact of life? If it seems distinctly un-American, it is. It’s a European concept: Who cares if your cell phone dies or your laptop fries or your server shuts down — it’s good for the environment. Amazing what a group of suits will do when you lock them in a room and try to reach a consensus.

The guy on the plane was very worried about how this ROHS tin/lead standard had rolled across the planet and was making its way into aerospace. He told eerie tales of entire satellites failing in orbit, space shuttle components that keep failing and more. All in the name of green IT. Shocking!

(For the scarier side and a mini-briefing on tin whiskers, see five one-minute videos.)

To make matters worse, some parts of the world are adding metal bismuth into the solder mix as a solution. If you leave a tiny trace of lead in it, however, you get cracks and disintegration. And of course, bismuth is far more harmful to the environment than lead. Other attempts at a solution using a variety of tin alloys have also been subject to tin whiskers. Coatings haven’t solved the issue, either. Bottom line: It’s one great unsolved problem.

Now let’s get some perspective on lead. The effects of lead poisoning are pretty horrific. It poisoned the Romans when they used it for plumbing. In effect, they were drinking a potent lead/water cocktail. So plumbing pipes now use copper, iron, steel and plastic. Lead-based paints were eliminated in the past couple of decades, too. Yet in my last two houses, built before the 1950s, lead-based paints were almost certainly used from top to bottom. Half the nation could well be in a similar predicament and most of Europe. If it’s so appallingly harmful, where is the lead poisoning pandemic?

Lead is actually a fairly common element and is found in nature in several forms. It really is hard to avoid. So what’s next — lead-free mountains? The point is that lead must be eliminated sensibly and in some areas — like electronics — it is not always a smart move. We are talking here about a tenth of a gram of lead per chip. Maybe a gram or so per motherboard. Is it so dangerous in those quantities that it is preferable to remove it and resulting in more hardware crashing? Let’s think about it in terms of carbon footprints or environmental footprints: a gram of lead on a motherboard vs. far more electronic components sent to the landfills of the world due to rampant unreliability?

NASA is terrified of the tin whisker problem. Type the term into the web site and take a read. Space Shuttle, space station, Hubble and satellite troubles galore are traceable to this problem. The military is refusing to adhere to lead-free solder. Yet both NASA and the military will feel the adverse effect of it, as they can’t control every single component because they have come to rely on commercial, off-the-shelf hardware so heavily. For the average IT department, though, all of the big server OEMs have moved over to lead-free solder. So get used to strange glitches, part replacement and general hardware havoc. It might be a good idea to really lean on your vendors for top-notch hardware replacement warranties before this becomes too big of a problem. ”

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Sebuah Komentar:

How sustainable is “Sustainable”?

Wacana sustainability memang sedang populer sekarang ini. Popularitasnya hingga sampai peringkat dimana ‘sustainability’ menjadi cap yang memiliki nilai jual secara ekonomis langsung. Maka banyak perusahaan besar yang memiliki agenda untuk ‘menghijaukan’ produk-produknya. Tetapi masalahnya penilaian rating sustainability itu sebenarnya tidak sederhana dan memerlukan kajian yang memakan waktu cukup lama. Dan prinsip sustainability yang dirumuskan saat ini sebenarnya adalah suatu wacana yang sifatnya masih sangat umum dan bisa dibilang agak filosofis.
Salah satu prinsip sustainability adalah mengurangi bahan-bahan yang diekstraksi (diubah bentuknya dari bentuk alaminya menjadi bentuk lain, misalnya metal) dari perut bumi, khususnya diprioritaskan bahan-bahan yang memang telah terbukti berpotensi meracuni manusia. Prinsip semacam ini sifatnya masih sangat umum. Padahal di kehidupan nyata, resiko dapat dan harus dioptimasikan dengan fungsi khusus bahan tersebut.
Karena itu, masalah-masalah sudah dapat diperkirakan akan terjadi di tataran praktek penerapan prinsip-prinsip sustainability. Yaitu ketika perusahaan-perusahaan mengambil keputusan bisnis dengan menerapkan pertimbangan-pertimbangan sustainability yang tidak matang, atau bahkan hanya sekedar ikut-ikutan trend, terlebih dengan ikut trend tersebut nilai jual produknya terangkat.
Ketika keputusan-keputusan bisnis yang tidak matang semacam itu dilakukan, maka sudah bisa dipastikan akan ada korban:
1. Bisnis yang menghasilkan produk yang mengandung bahan-bahan yang dinilai ‘tidak sustainable’.
2. Konsumen, karena bahan-bahan alternatif yang ditawarkan pada umumnya lebih mahal dan mengakibatkan kualitas produk akhir menjadi lebih buruk. Siapa yang mau membayar lebih mahal untuk barang yang kualitasnya lebih buruk?

Dialog peradaban tentang penerapan prinsip-prinsip sustainability ini menjadi semakin rumit karena ada daftar panjang antrian bahan-bahan alternatif yang mengklaim dirinya sebagai bahan yang layak untuk menggantikan bahan yang selama ini dipakai (dan sialnya bahan yang selama ini kita pakai dan dianggap ‘berbahaya’ ini memang bahan yang selama ini sudah terbukti berfungsi dengan sangat baik dan sangat handal).

Dialog peradaban adalah suatu yang memang penting untuk dilakukan, tapi
dialog seringkali menjadi rumit dan bahkan terkadang brutal, sehingga seringkali malah menjadi kontra-produktif, bahkan ironisnya justru kemudian bisa menjadi berlawanan dengan tujuan mulia sustainability yang digagas pada awalnya, karena produk-produk alternatif yang ditawarkan biasanya adalah produk-produk yang belum banyak dikaji secara menyeluruh rating sustainability-nya, karena produk-produk tersebut umumnya memang masih baru dan belum ada record sustainability-nya untuk penggunaan dalam jangka waktu yang panjang.

Jadi masalah yang harus kita jawab secepatnya adalah:
“How sustainable is ‘sustainable’?”
Dan bagaimana kita bisa mengkompromikan fungsi khusus suatu bahan dalam skema penghitungan rating sustainability bahan tersebut?



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