The fact that you are currently surfing the internet and reading the official website of the Township of Bonfield implies that you are an internet user. Reading news on the internet is greener than having everybody purchase newspapers. However, it has some environmental costs as well. Some carbon dioxide is released to power our electronic devices. On the other end, some energy is required to run data centers. More than half of the global population are internet users. These users, all together, produce as much carbon dioxide as global air travel. This will be doubled in 5 years as online activities grow. An email with attachments can add up to 50g of carbon dioxide to the air. This number in a year can be comparable to more than 300 km driving of a family car. This article does not mean to invite readers to decline sending emails and happy new year messages. The idea is rather to encourage reducing waste. One less “thank you” email in the UK equals declining more than 3000 cars in a year (text messages are greener).

Another aspect of carbon emission while using the internet is live streaming. Hit songs – several billions of views – consume as much energy as Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone, and the Central African Republic in one year. Five countries versus a song. US online gamers consume more energy than freezers and washers. These activities can’t be stopped. They can rather be re-formatted. For example, one way is to enjoy our movies/games together rather than individually so that less energy is required for the joy of the same group of people. While the IT industry is projected to produce 14% of emissions in two decades from now, the United Nations International Telecommunication Union targets a 45% emissions reduction in the next decade. This 45% is ambitious but achievable. There are some disagreements on the extent of actions that leads to declining emissions (e.g. should I be careful about sending emails?); however, proper education can mobilize everybody to play a role in the climate crisis. Every day new mitigation measures are introduced that can be followed by individuals according to their business, location, age, etc.

Enjoy Christmas, cast hope, and take care of the environment by smart usage of resources.

Resources:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200305-why-your-internet-habits-are-not-as-clean-as-you-think