What does that mean for the IT industry or companies that rely on IT? First, it means less available electric power, which makes the power crisis we're facing all the more dire: "Drought-induced water shortages have already caused power plant shutdowns in Europe, Brazil, and the southeast U.S. that led to price spikes and reduced economic growth. The power industry depends heavily on water and accounts for a staggering 39 percent of freshwater withdrawals in the U.S."
Second, a water shortage has a profound impact on the silicon-chip industry, the cost of which could trickle up the supply chain. According to the report, "eleven of the world's 14 largest semiconductor factories are in the Asia-Pacific region, where water scarcity risks are especially severe. IT firms require vast amounts of ultra clean water; Intel and Texas Instruments alone used 11 billion gallons to make silicon chips in 2007. A water-related shutdown at a fabrication facility operated by these firms could result in $100 to $200 million in missed revenue during a quarter, or $0.02 or $0.04 per share."
[ Businesses, including IT companies, have other reasons for concern over the GHG emissions and global climate change, such as the threat of litigation. Learn more by reading "C02 spewer? See you in court!" ]
The bottom line here is that we're finally witnessing greater acknowledgment and acceptance in the political and business worlds that global climate change is indeed a threat and that more steps need to be taken to combat it. Yes, a cap-and-trade system will yield headaches. Companies will likely have to make some investments up front to measure and reduce their emissions. There are payoffs, though: Conservation leads to savings in the long run (efficiency can yield dividends) -- and preserving the planet is a nice bonus.