From the Earth Island Journal
Y2K and Environmentalism
by Jim Lord
Because of its embedded processor aspect, the Year 2000 Computer Crisis poses what is likely the greatest environmental threat in history. Embedded processors control countless industrial processes that produce or use pollutants, poisons, or toxic substances.
The April 1998 issue of World Oil Magazine estimates that "the average oil and gas firm, starting today, can expect to remediate fewer than 30 percent of the overall potential failure points in the production environment. This reality shifts the focus of the solution away from trying to fix the problem, to planning strategies that would minimize potential damage and mitigate potential safety hazards."
The cold, clammy realization that we're not going to fix the embedded processor problem is sinking in. No matter how well we do in the United States, much of the world has little chance of fixing the embedded processor component of Y2K. The environmental implications are nothing short of staggering.
Awareness of the Year 2000 Crisis is growing dramatically. Before long, the environmentalists will realize what's happening and when they do, they're going to go stark, raving nuts.
They're going to want to shut down everything and here's the great irony they're probably right. We probably can't take the chance of massive, simultaneous, global failures in environmentally sensitive systems. At a minimum, we need to start testing these facilities by turning the computers ahead to the Year 2000 in a carefully controlled and isolated fashion.
Political leaders all over the world will be trapped in a fascinating corner: Save the world by shutting it down and ruining the global economy. Meanwhile, all those tens of billions of clock chips keep ticking, ticking, ticking.
Jim Lord is the author of A Survival Guide for the Year 2000 Problem, a sample of which can be previewed at http://www.SurviveY2K.com.