Here’s a fact: The IT industry has a carbon footprint the same size as the entire airline industry. Every minute, data centres receive tens of millions of requests about the weather, and having an answer for that difficult question relies on tremendously complex operations that use vast amounts of information gathered from around the world.
But those operations – and many more like it, from uploading a picture to streaming a film on Netflix – are having a vast impact on that weather. The very technology we use to understand our world could at the same time be changing it in profound ways. Many of us access the Internet on a daily basis, but do we really know what effect the Internet has on our environment? With so many of us accessing the Internet without a care in the world, we very rarely stop to ask what effect the Internet has on our environment.
1. Large and Inefficient Data Centres: Data Centres are essential for a lot of what we take for granted on the Internet; for instance, our e-mails and cloud storage. However, not all data centres are the same. You could essentially think of these centres as hall after hall of super-large servers that you’d need a load cell to accurately weigh them. These incredibly heavy servers take up not only a lot of space but, they also use a whole lot of energy. The need masses of power to keep running and they’re kept running all the time. An inefficient data centre can lead to wasted energy and a needlessly large carbon footprint.
2. Large Business with Poor Power Management: Nowadays, we can’t really get any work done without getting online anymore, can we? Well, all of those machines accessing the Internet all over the globe for business purposes add up. That part of the Internet certainly isn’t good for the environment. Bulky and old computer workstations require more servers and all of this adds up to a bigger carbon footprint.
However, with newer, low-power PCs and slim line servers, online businesses could drastically reduce their carbon footprint and be a little kinder to the environment.
3. Impact on Human health and the Environment: A lot of times towers and other equipment like satellite dishes are installed on buildings and residential areas. These devices can prove dangerous to birds. Moreover, satellites used for the purpose of Internet service also create space debris, which is polluting the Earth’s atmosphere. The Internet doesn’t spare humans either. It may be shrinking our brain. According to scientists, small regions in the brains of Internet addicts shrank by 10-20%. And that’s not all: Extensive Internet use has been linked with eyestrain, bad posture, ADHD, sleep deprivation, bullying, relationship stress and more.
So, what is the solution here? Here’s what you can do:
1. Set limits on the amount of time you can spend online. You’ll be able to see usage data and it’s easier to call it a day.
2. For searches and other quick tasks, use a tablet or smartphone instead of a desktop or laptop- they use much less energy than larger devices.
3. When visiting a website, type in the exact name to avoid multiple searches. Say you want to go to Facebook. Type facebook.com and not just Facebook. You directly visit the website instead of searching for it and then visiting it. You don’t just reduce a step; you reduce an emission.
4. If you are going to stream a file multiple times, opting to download rather than stream means you’ll pull the data from the server only once then having to visit it every time you wish to stream it.
5. Delete redundant screenshots and photos from iCloud or other cloud drives.
6. Many use YouTube as background noise, and sometimes even fall asleep, generating carbon for no gain. Cutting back on these uses when you are not watching, could help keep your carbon footprint down.
7. Instead of turning to your phone every time you have a minute, go offline. Watch or listen to life happening around you instead. You might find brilliance in your boredom.