Don't look now, but we're about to run out of 1 type of IP address. Here's why you should care.

We're gonna need a bigger Internet.

Hey, remember when we ran out of phone numbers in 2001?

Back then, people were in a panic about having to start dialing area codes with every call. The New York Times even warned, at the time, that we may be in store for "yet another number shortage within a decade that could lead to a wholesale revamping of the system."

This is how people felt about area codes in 2001. GIF from "In Bruges."


While that never came to pass, we do suddenly find ourselves in another sort of pickle. Because, seemingly out of nowhere, we have reached the end of the Internet.

Just like the "number exhaustion" of yesteryear, 2015 will be known as the year we ran out of IP addresses.


An IP address is a number assigned to any device that connects to the Internet. You've probably seen them before – it might look something like 64.233.160.0 (which is just one of many IP addresses that belong to Google).

Just like you need to know someone's home address in order to send them a letter, a website or database needs to know your IP address in order to deliver data to your device.

IPv4, the current numbering system, originally allowed for about 4.3 billion unique combinations. And we've only got about 100,000 left.

Relax, there's nothing you need to do to prepare. But that doesn't mean IP address depletion won't affect you.

There's a new numbering system that's been rolling out for a while called IPv6 (no word on why they skipped v5) that allows for 340 undecillion unique IP addresses — or in other words, way more.

Most likely, everyday users like you may only notice some small improvements with IPv6, like better security encryption and smoother delivery of video data.

But there are definitely bigger ramifications.

With the unprecedented growth of the web, net neutrality is more important than ever.

We've certainly come a long way. Photo by Hanan Cohen/Flickr.

There are over a billion active websites on the web today, with over 2 billion people worldwide using the Internet regularly.

Think about that! In the world we live in today, you can feasibly connect with almost anyone old enough to use a computer or mobile device. You can be exposed to a near infinite variety of stories, cultures, and perspectives.

But not if companies like Comcast and Verizonwho want more control over what we see and how we see it — get their way.

As the web continues to grow, let's hope for more diversity and inclusion. Not less.

You can help make it happen by going to Save the Internet and joining the fight, either by signing a petition or making a donation to the cause.

"IPv4 depleting is a testament to the success of the Internet," Richard Jimmerson, chief information office of the American Registry for Internet Numbers told CBSNews. "The Internet is one of the most significant advancements we have made in our generation. I'm very excited we are moving on to do more things that we can't even imagine today."

Hopefully he's right.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular