The Environmental Impact of the Internet – A Closer Look

Written by Tina Aleksieva 0 Comments
You recycle. You are probably conscious of leaving plugs on that aren’t being used. You may even tend your own compost… Well, it’s clear, you’re a good person, trying to reduce pollution and do your part for the environment.

That’s great, because we live in a time where we can’t afford negligence towards the environment. Mother Nature really can’t take another one for the team, unfortunately.

Recently we created an informative, visually thought-provoking, and downright revealing infographic looking at the environmental impact of the internet, the importance of green cloud hosting, and 6 things you can do to help. If you haven’t seen it already, please take a look here at how green cloud hosting can help.

Well, as thought-provoking as it is, we’d like to go into greater depth on points we’ve raised on how to reduce pollution, and provide you with some more information, especially on the ways that you can help.

Increasing Population

One of the first points raised in the infographic is that there are 3.5 BILLION people who are connected to the World Wide Web. Quite the amount, did you know that’s pretty much HALF of the entire world? Well, it’s only going to increase as the population increases, and the figure will accelerate as more countries, cities, villages, populations gain new technologies allowing them to access the internet. Take a look here at a live site, showing how many people are accessing the internet right this second.

It's getting crowded in here.

The United Nations (as reliable as sources go!) forecasts that the population of the world will be 9.7 billion people by 2050. Translating that into internet users, that’ll be around 5 billion, if we completely ignore the acceleration of populations adopting the technologies allowing them to use the internet. That means a tremendous increase in users, therefore amount of internet pollution. Want a reason to save the environment? Well you have 3.5 billion at the moment, and that figure’s only increasing.

Laptop vs Phone – which should you use with the environment in mind?

As we noted in the infographic, if you’re looking for ways to reduce pollution it is much better to use your phone than your laptop. Your laptop is a much larger device, using more energy and needing more energy to be fully charged. But how much energy is required to power your laptop? Is the difference so minimal that it doesn’t really matter? Well, let’s take a quick look.

According to Forbes online your typical, run-of-the mill laptop uses about 72 kilowatt to fully charge every year on average, working on to be $8 that same year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Only $8, that probably uses up less than your toaster you’re thinking…

Well, let’s put that 8$ / year into context shall we. An iPad, on average again, is said to cost only $1.36 per year. As for an iPhone… a measly 12 cents. That’s a 98.5% difference, simply from charging a phone over a laptop.

We’ve waded through numbers, so how does this relate to the internet? It means that for all those little queries, searches of intrigue or social media time your phone is remarkably better at saving power than your laptop. If you’re wanting to find something out, you should use your phone as a result. It’s quicker, more efficient, and you will be saving a ton of power than can be used for other things, not browsing memes or Tweeting your favourite celebrity!

When it comes to reducing pollution, phone wins this battle, hands down.

Limiting “Reply All”, unsubscribing from newsletters – how does this help?

From the infographic you may be wondering how changing your email habits can help reduce pollution. Well, it’s actually quite simple.

All emails contain small amounts of data. The data is usually tiny, barely noticeable to each individual person (unless you have over 50,000 in your inbox, which in that case you should start deleting them, very soon).

But consider this on a global scale. How many emails do you think are sent each day? Quite a lot, you’d imagine. Well, according to a report by the Radicati Group, a technology research firm, in 2015 they calculated that 205 billion emails are sent every single day. No matter how small each individual email is sent, that’ll be a huge amount of data every day which needs to be stored on servers supporting it. More data means more servers, and therefore a larger drain on power which could be used elsewhere.

So, to limit this amount of data we should all be mindful of not ‘replying all’ when we can simply reply to a single person.

Also, to all those pesky newsletters we receive that we don’t have any intention of reading, unsubscribing is a great way to clear the inbox and thus also limit the amount of emails we receive, reducing the amount of data that is transferred.

Remember, when thinking of the environment, every little helps, and this is a prime example of a small effort that in the larger scheme of things can create a big difference.

Green Cloud Hosting

Datacentres, those bland and unassuming-looking buildings scattered all over the world, are the powerhouses that allow us all to freely roam the internet. We are totally reliant on them in this day and age, and without them it would feel like reverting back to the stone ages.

In the infographic, we looked at the figures of servers and datacentres – 70 million worldwide – which contribute to a staggering of 2% of all greenhouse gases produced. The figures are even reported to be higher, at 3% and more...

But do not fret, because there are companies out there who know that contributions like these are causing harm. Kualo’s green cloud hosting, for example, is 100% green powered & energy efficient, meaning that we use renewable energy to provide their service to all our customers.

In 2020 we sharpened our resolve in the fight against climate change, and now support reforestation efforts and invest in projects that are certified to remove carbon from our environment, as part of our commitment to becoming a climate positive business.

You can read more about Kualo’s green hosting here.

By ‘green cloud hosting’ in this way, and with their further commitment to becoming a climate positive business, Kualo ensure that no contributions are made to these figures.

This is just one step in the right direction, but if more and more companies who green host their data, then we’d see a much-needed decrease in pollution.

To conclude, individually these are all small things, but they all contribute to helping reduce wastage. The internet has had an immeasurable impact on our lives and will continue to, so let’s make an effort to ensure this impact is positive and not negatively affect the environment. Kualo exists to provide the most reliable web hosting out there, but also to do it in an environmentally conscious way.

If you are looking for more information on pollution related to the internet, have a look at these sites:

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About the Author

Tina works in the customer support team at Kualo. She loves helping customers make the most of their web site and knows web applications inside and out.