Written by: Aiswarya Anil
A few days ago, the world’s largest and most-used search engine stopped working, also shutting down all the other services that it provides. Google, along with YouTube, Calendar, Gmail and other necessary applications ceased to work for a brief period of time.
If you’re wondering what the reason was, we have got it covered for you.
Although the inherent problem of the shut down was a technical glitch at the end of the server, the ecological implication of the same is rather insidious and rooted in our unhealthy digital habits.
Google cited the reason for the shut down as an ‘authentication system outage,’ which happens when internal tools that allocate storage for all services to work smoothly face a running problem. To put it simply, the storage space at the end of the server ran out, causing all the services that work against its background to crash down.
It’s similar to when games on our PC crash if our computer runs out of RAM space or hard disk space. Hence, many of those who use Google to control their house appliances were literally left in the dark.
Although a depletion of storage space is not directly a concern that affects the environment, it is a reminder of how we forget to minimise our internet and social media habits that contribute towards carbon footprint. Sadly, our storage habits play a major role in the same.
Every time we make a Google search, download a “Good Morning” GIF from that our relatives shared or forward a prank video to our friends, we are not just affecting our own physical storage space. Such small activities that we perform without even blinking an eye consume energy – electricity, to be precise – which eventually adds up to the global carbon footprint.
To those who are still wondering, carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere and shockingly, our mundane internet routine also does the same. However, here are some ways you can reduce the same.
1. Minimise the number of downloads you make
One can start doing so by sharing less number of videos and images on platforms such as WhatsApp or Instagram.
2. Try not to stream content online
Watching content online or listening to music while on the internet uses a tremendous amount of energy. Considering how Netflix takes up around 15% of the internet’s traffic, it is high time we switch to alternatives such as downloading and watching content offline.
3. Find better alternatives to storing your important files on the cloud
Internet storage does sound like a more sustainable option to keep your files safely, however, it is detrimental to the environment. USBs are a good alternative – however, there’s a catch in that too.
4. Use your gadgets minimally
Companies such as Apple and Samsung increase our appetite every year by launching newer and classier phones, but it is vital to question yourself as to whether you actually need them – old electronics contribute a huge amount of e-waste. Hence, even keep your USBs safe.
5. Always free up space on your email and install ad-blockers
Although the previous points may have sounded drastic for one to change their habits too quickly, this option may calm your nerves. Pop-up ads also consume a lot of data just to appear on your screen and hence, a good old ad-blocker can keep these pests away.
Cleaning up your emails will benefit you with a neat workspace and also protect Google from crashing down again.
It’s partly ironic that we, the consumers, are the real superheroes without whom such multinational companies won’t be able to survive. Many multinational companies including Microsoft and Google allege that their companies have been foolproofed enough to leave minimal footprints. In 2007, Google announced itself as ‘Carbon Neutral’ and declared its aim to become ‘Carbon Free’ by 2030.
However, we know whose conscience is much better, right?
Note: The article was originally published here.