The internet is the fastest growing source of CO2 to the atmoshpere

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“The internet is the fastest growing source of CO2 to the atmosphere…it doubled from 2002 to 2006.”

Over the last 15 years the Internet has grown from almost nothing to something of enormous economic and social value. But in the meantime, its consumption of electricity, which currently stands at 3% to 5% of the global supply, is increasing exponentially.

Normally, no one would associate cyberspace, the Internet, and things related to it, with pollution and label them a cause for concern for the environment. For the average man or woman on the street, the computing industry, in its paperless formats and energy-saving designs, has been one of the leaders of the green movement for a long time now.

However, behind the scenes of the supposed environmentally-friendly digital landscapes lay the ugly truths – which are that even they contribute to the growing problem of pollution.

It is a little known fact that a data server, the backbone of the web-hosting industry, has the potential to release just as many emissions as that of a car, and that when housed together in a single data centre, can potentially use enough electricity to power 25000 households and produce around 13 tonnes of CO2 in a single year.

These are truly staggering figures when looking at the exponential growth of the Internet and its supporting industries, and how more and more people are demanding for more bandwidth and faster speeds online – which can only mean more room for pollution if things are not looked at.

With more than 1.5 billion people online around the world, scientists estimate that the energy footprint of the net is growing by more than 10% each year. This leaves many internet companies caught in a bind: energy costs are escalating because of their increasing popularity, while at the same time their advertising revenues come under pressure from the recession.

In an energy-constrained world, we simply cannot afford to grow the footprint of the internet, we need to rein in the energy consumption.

By: Sharad Agarwal

Filed Under: FeaturedInternet Guide


About the Author: Agricultural Engineer & scientific translator B.Sc in Nutrition & Food technology.