Did You Know That Every Search You Make Online Contributes To Climate Change?

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Do you know that a single search on the internet emits carbon? By the time you read this article on YKA, you will have contributed towards climate change.

Yes, you read it right. Every search comes at the cost of our planet. The complexity and ubiquity of the internet ecosystem is mind-boggling. The internet is a ‘cloud’, meaning it relies on millions of physical servers in data centres around the globe, which are connected with miles of undersea cables, switches and routers.

To run that large mechanism for providing freedom of access to information with efficiency, it requires a lot of energy which comes from power sources that emit carbon dioxide, as they burn fossil fuels. This implicates the entire digital citizen in harming the environment.

A student works on her computer. (Photo: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The world’s most popular search engine generates 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint. According to Google Environmental Report 2018, Google’s greenhouse gas emission was 3.3 million tons in 2017. An estimate shows that, one search on Google causes 0.2 g of carbon dioxide emission. At an average of 47,000 requests every second, that’s 500 kgs of emissions a second.

Now calculate that amount with every click taken to send an email, tweet, blog, post on Instagram and so on…

On the other hand, Facebook’s sustainability report shows a total of 339 thousands metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Data centres, which run these digital firms, essentially powering our digital lives, consume about 3% of the world’s electricity. The internet as a whole currently accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the same as all global aviation. By 2025, Cisco predicts that the internet will account for 3.5% of global carbon emissions.

The ecological imprint of data centers is damaging enough but it holds within itself the solution for greener future, till then what we can do:

  1. Statistics show that YouTube and other video streaming websites accounted for 50% of internet traffic. By reducing the amount of time you spend streaming videos will reduce your carbon footprint significantly.
  2. Set a limit on the amount of time you spend online. Unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters, channels, website notifications, etc.
  3. While surfing the internet, use lite mode and use smartphones or tablets instead of the desktop or laptops as it consumes less data and energy.

And most important of all – spread the word! The more awareness we can generate about the internet’s carbon footprint, the more positive change we can create.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Pxfuel.
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