Climate change and the future of the internet
The carbon emission caused by the electricity consumption related to the internet will be more than all the countries except India, China and the United States.
Do you know that watching Netflix for an hour a week in a year consumes more electricity than two new refrigerators? Just like water and air, the resources that help bring the internet to us are dependent on fossil fuels. What are we doing about the effects of the internet and the climate concerns related to it?
Every website on the internet requires energy to load. The energy consumption related to the internet is expected to increase by 20 per cent or more by 2030. Around three billion people are yet to join the internet.
The carbon emission caused by the electricity consumption related to the internet will be more than all the countries except India, China and the United States. All these factors are not going to eliminate the internet but bring bias and challenges in front of us.
Experts suggest that this will make the internet a scarce resource, a reason to fight for our future generations. As consumption is going to increase the cost too will increase. This might also divide the internet into segments, for the rich and the poor. While talking to The New Republic, Gary Cook, an information technology expert at Greenpeace says financial inequities are going to define the future of internet access.
The amount of energy it takes to load a page should be considered. A heavy website with videos, players, cookies, ads and images consumes more energy to load. So a minimum of 0.24 grams of carbon is emitted with every page view. Here's a website where you can calculate the carbon emitted by a particular page or a website.
The report mentions that 'The internet is inextricably tied to the coming horrors of the climate crisis. It is both a major force behind that crisis and one of its likely casualties.' It calls it the largest coal-fired machine on the entire planet with 10 per cent of global electricity demand.
Few of the proposed solutions include eco-friendly web pages that consume less energy. Limits on internet speed and corporate surveillance should be ended. We should make less bloated web pages that take up more space and consume more energy.
Building data centres that run on solar power can be one of the options that are considered. Creating local servers and communities to share can also reduce the scale of the problem. Decentralised servers and connections can run on less power or can even be solar-powered. The full report can be read here.