There's much consternation over the imminent depletion of IPv4 addresses. Jim Curran's speech has been picked up by a few blogs and, following Hurricane Electric's recent announcement on IPv4, there's a bit of a kerfuffle going on.

;I'm at a loss to understand why: this is something that has been highlighted for some time and while the estimated date of exhaustion has moved backwards and forwards from time to time. However, all the estimates from bodies such as ICANN and RIPE have recently suggested that addresses will run out some time next spring, although some mavericks have suggested that this December could be the cut-off point.

I can't help but make comparisons with the climate change debate - both discussions are populated by those who hold that we're heading for some kind of crisis point and by those who feel that the problem has been much exaggerated - with all points in between.

One of the problems with the debate over climate change is that you can never quite separate people's opinions about the scientific evidence with their own personal feelings and, more importantly, personal lifestyles. For example, if you're someone who drives a 4x4 500km every week, is your scepticism about climate change based on doubts on the science or the fact that you don't want man-made climate change to be true as it would have such a profound impact on your lifestyle.

Similarly, with IPv4 address space. If you're in an enterprise or an ISP that has made no allowances whatsover for the fact that IPv4 addresses will run out one day, I suspect that you're more likely to be more sceptical about claims that the address space is going to vanish very soon. If you work for an organisation like RIPE, say, that has a vested interest in encouraging organisations to be IPv6-aware, then you're going to be more hardline about it.

Sceptics about the immediate need for IPv6 tend to point at the example of the Y2K problem as a disaster that was waiting to happen but, the lack of disasters on 1 January 2000 surely said as much about the preparation work for the problem rather than there not being a problem in the first place.

So, will it be in 2011 when the last IPv4 block is allocated. Talk of the IPcalypse is less than helpful because, in reality, we're not going to be hit by an immediate Internet crash or crisis. But companies who have, so far, ignored the problem are going to be in with a shock at some point, be it 2011, 2012 or 2013

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