Day 14: Digital Carbon Footprint
Originally published: 14th April, 2020 on Facebook and Instagram
DIGITAL CARBON FOOTPRINT
We don’t think about this much but every email we send out, even video or audio we stream, every “Good Morning” message we send across on WhatsApp or SMS uses energy.
While connecting digitally has changed the world and led to globalization, it has also increased energy consumption for data storage, transfer, upload and download enormously. According to some estimates,
- A standard email results in the production of about 4 g of CO2 equivalents (CO2e)
- An long email with an attachment can result in the production about 50 g CO2e
- An average spam email results in about 0.3 g CO2e
- A Google search takes 0.0003 kWh of energy on an average search query, translating to roughly 0.2g CO2e
The average office worker receives about 121 emails a day…. which would result in about 0.6 tonnes of CO2 e. (Source: https://carbonliteracy.com/the-carbon-cost-of-an-email/)
Some estimates say that the energy used for Internet all over the world is about 3–6 % of total electrical energy and about 2% of the total energy consumption of the world. Now, this is only an estimate and things like transportation use a lot more energy.
But, just like everything else, moderation is the key… reducing our overall carbon footprint also includes reducing our digital footprint. As more and more things shift to online platforms, the energy to maintain data servers is only going to increase.
Companies like Google are pledging to buy more renewable energy and data server technology is becoming more and more efficient. So, that is some good news.
On our end, this is not to say that we should stop using email or streaming videos. But just that we need to be more mindful about using these services.
𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐚 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐝𝐚𝐲 (𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤) 𝐟𝐨𝐫 “𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐨𝐱”… 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐧 𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥.
Other tiny things we can do,
(1) Reduce monitor brightness
(2) Adjust “power saver” settings on laptops
(3) Download instead of stream
(4) Block video autoplay
(5) Opt out of spam email
(6) Digitally detox
This is a topic that is fairly new to me and very interesting. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!