In such telling times, when the whole human race has been brought down to knees by the onslaught of nature, the need to study the internet carbon footprint on the planet becomes even more compelling.
COVID-19 has forced the governments to implement countrywide lock-downs and businesses are being asked to continue their operations remotely. A large chunk of the world population is sitting at home to help curb the spread of the deadly virus, trying to stay productive during Coronavirus. One trend that has picked up amongst all is the increased usage of the internet. Everyone is online and is connecting with each other, so definitely when the world has come to a halt, the internet lines are still flooded.
The point is that most people are unaware of the digital carbon footprint and cannot relate to the idea, that by just sitting at home and not going out, they are still contributing to the pollution level and adding to the carbon footprints on nature. We shall see how but before that it is even more important to know what is the internet carbon footprint?
It has been observed that nearly 300m tonnes of CO2 are released by the internet every year. This is the same as the total amount of coal, oil, and gas that is burned in Turkey annually or more to the equivalent of a person who flew from England to the USA and back, almost twice.
Determining a carbon footprint, is never easy but when it comes to internet carbon footprint, the task is even more challenging because of two prime concerns:
So, calculating the digital carbon footprint exactly becomes very difficult so the researchers have to settle with rough estimates. You can possibly start with the data centers as they are huge consumers of electricity. The latter is chiefly used for powering various machinery that is installed in them in addition to the ones used by air-conditioning systems.
In recent research carried out by Gartner, that these data centers stand for nearly a quarter of the energy that is consumed by the whole industry. Gartner also states that the PCs and other monitors stand for nearly 40 percent of the overall demand by the Information and Communication Technology sector. If all these emissions are added, they will account for nearly 1 percent of the complete CO2 emissions that are released by the burning of fossil fuels.
Now that it is clear what internet carbon footprint means, let us not explore ways about how to tame it and keep it under check.
Internet and related technologies may have made our lives easier and convenient, yet they have come loaded with effects on the climate. It comes to stand for nearly 2 percent of global carbon emissions, and with the pace of climate change, it is time we address it proactively as it is continuously increasing.
Here are some steps that have to be taken by individuals, and businesses together to tame this rate.
This can serve as a highly significant step to reduce your internet carbon footprint. The most sustainable web hosting companies are Kinsta, Timpani, Raidboxes, etc.
This may sound off the track but you cannot rule out the fact that a properly done SEO can bar the unnecessary internet traffic that is directed to your website. You will not only have quality visitors but the ones that are genuinely interested in your product. It will bring down the bounce rate that consumes a lot of energy. Ensure that you do not have any wasted pageviews.
Do not opt for high definition images if you are not selling products. Blogs can do with simple images instead of opting for high-quality images.
Efficient caching will bring down the bandwidth of the server that is often reduced to create pageviews. Implementing a good quality caching technology on your website can improve your page load speed and reduce the bandwidth used to load the page.
One of the simplest and most effective steps that you can take as an individual is to reduce your streaming and gaming time online. YouTube and Netflix have come to be known for almost 50 percent of internet traffic during peak viewing times. Limiting the time you spend online can be highly beneficial and effective.
A little effort and consciousness can go a long way to ensure that our internet carbon footprint is brought down. The total emissions that now rest at 2 percent can go high to 3.5 percent as per a study conducted by Cisco. The Internet may seem clean and light but there is a heavy imprint it has on the environment. It is time we wake up and not let Nature take another stance to teach us a harder lesson! Another great way to lower your impact on the environment is to analyze your business carbon footprint and how to calculate it.
Anuja is the Co-founder and CEO of RedAlkemi Online Pvt. Ltd., a digital marketing agency helping clients with their end to end online presence. Anuja has 30 years of work experience as a successful entrepreneur and has co-founded several ventures since 1986. She and her team are passionate about helping SMEs achieve measurable online success for their business. Anuja holds a Bachelors degree in Advertising from the Government College of Fine Arts, Chandigarh, India.