You might not know this, but the Internet contributes to pollution as well. In 2018 alone, videos uploaded to the internet are said to have generated around 300 million tonnes of CO2, which equates to 1% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to make the public aware about ‘the direct and indirect environmental impacts linked to the uses of digital technologies,’, the French think tank The Shift Project published a report on 11th July cautioning about the consequences of watching videos online.
Cats, Netflix and porn
‘Online video streaming produces around 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year: porn, Game of Thrones and cat videos are an ecological disaster,’ warns the think tank in a tweet presenting the report which you can find in the video at the top of this article.
At the centre of this report, in 2018, pornographic content is said to have generated ‘the same amount of CO2 as all the households in France’ in 2010 (82 million tonnes of CO2 against 84.6). But other sectors also contribute to this problem. Video on demand services, which equate for 102 million tonnes of CO2 released every year, the ‘hits’ watched on platforms such as Dailymotion, YouTube or Vimeo, which account for 65 million tonnes of CO2, and finally, online videos (TV streaming, video games, live videos…) which represent 305 million tonnes of CO2 per year are also responsible.
A shift towards ‘digital sobriety’
In total, these CO2 emissions are on similar par to the amount of emissions released in a country like Spain over a year-long period. The Shift Project wants to try and reverse this by introducing the concept of ‘digital sobriety’.
‘While our current consumption patterns are directly responsible for our inability to reduce our carbon footprint, we still tend to balk at the idea of changing them,’ explains Hughes Ferreboeuf, Project Manager at The Shift Project.
‘The current climate emergency should convince us that questioning our digital behaviours is not only desirable, but also possible.’
Therefore, the think tank is recommending that we limit our video streaming to an hour a day, to limit ‘binge-watching’ series and to regulate our consumption of cat videos and adult content. All while keeping in mind that it’s better to avoid replacing our digital devices too frequently since they are difficult to recycle.
‘To be ‘sober’ on the level of our society is therefore to reinvent our uses so that they are compatible with climate constraints,’ concludes the author of the report, Maxime Efoui-Hess.