How much energy does the internet as a whole consume and how damaging is this environmental impact? If you include the whole global machinery: powering all the personal devices, production of hardware and handling e-waste, but also data processing and transmission, running and cooling these massive servers in big data centers – what does it really add up to? And, importantly, what is the added impact of the last year, since everyone was sent into home office, video conferencing exploded and streaming content suddenly seemed to be the only distraction from quarantine loneliness? The straightforward answer to these questions concerning the extent of environmental impact through increased Internet use is, surprisingly: no, it’s not that bad. However, this does not mean we should be indifferent to it, because the balance between increasing internet demand and efficiency improvements could easily slip. We will explain how and what you can do about it.
Invisible Emissions from the Internet: Should We Care? By Judith Rybol and Ami Kinoshita is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0