Today, I received a very disturbing email on NANOG which was forwarded from a recipient on the Global Environment Watch (GEW) mailing list. If this is true, we all need to take steps to make an orderly and smooth transition to IPv6 as quickly as possible, lest we suffer from the harmful effects described in this email.
From: Stephen H. Inden To: Global Environment Watch (GEW) mailing list Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2011 00:19:08 +0200 Subject: IPv4 Address Exhaustion Effects on the Earth
At a ceremony held on February 3, 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the remaining last five /8s of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). With this action, the free pool of available IPv4 addresses was completely depleted.
Since then, several scientists have been studying the effects of this massive IPv4 usage (now at its peak) on the Earth.
While measuring electromagnetic fields emanating from the world's largest IPv4 Tier-1 backbones, NASA scientists calculated how the IPv4 exhaustion is affecting the Earth's rotation, length of day and planet's shape.
Dr. Ron F. Stevens, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said all packet switching based communications have some effect on the Earth's rotation. It's just they are usually barely noticeable. Until now.
"Every packet affects the Earth's rotation, from a small ping to a huge multi-terabyte download. The problem with IPv4 is its variable length header and tiny address space that can cause an electromagnetic unbalance on transmission lines. The widespread adoption of Network Address Translation (NAT) on IPv4 networks is making the problem even worse, since it concentrates the electromagnetic unbalance. This problem is not noticeable with IPv6 because of its fixed header size and bigger 128 bits address space", Dr. Stevens said.
Over the past few years, Dr. Stevens has been measuring the IPv4 growing effects in changing the Earth's rotation in both length of day, as well as gravitational field. When IPv4 allocation reached its peak, last February, he found out that the length of day decreased by 2.128 microseconds. The electromagnetic unbalance is also affecting the Earth's shape -- the Earth's oblateness (flattening on the top and bulging at the Equator) is decreasing by a small amount every year because of the increasing IPv4 usage.
The researcher concluded that IPv4 usage has reached its peak and is causing harmful effects on the Earth:
"IPv4 is, indeed, harmful. Not only 32 bits for its address space has proven too small and prone to inadequate solutions like NAT, it is now clear that its electromagnetic effects on the Earth are real and measurable."
"I'm convinced that the only permanent solution is to adopt IPv6 as fast as we can", says Dr. Stevens.