We all have our personal share of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – our personal carbon footprint: when we drive a car, fire up the oven, grill a steak, and even when we surf the web.
When we all produce more carbon than the planet can absorb, the extra CO2 increases climate change. That’s why it’s worth taking a closer look and considering how much our digital carbon footprint is and how it can be minimized by taking a few simple steps.
The manufacture of digital end devices, such as smartphones, laptops and televisions, causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. But also the usage of these devices causes our carbon footprint to rise.
So let’s take a look at how much CO2 we roughly produce with our digital lifestyle. This infographic represents a rough estimate of digital carbon production in Germany.
When adding up all of this, alone in Germany, every person produces approx. 12 tons of CO2 every year, only 2 tons of that amount is climate-friendly and a whooping 0,85 tons are produced by Information Technology alone.
In this digital time we live in, the usage of computers and laptops is a every day thing, we don’t think twice about what impact this might have on our climate, it is often considerably underestimated.
So let’s just have a look at some numbers there. Lets relate to a standard office setting in which 100 computers are in use. A standard computer consumes around 171 watts of electricity (this is exclusive of the display screen and any external peripherals added).
The calculation is based on a hundred computers being powered on for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (as most businesses are now being encouraged to leave there computers switched on permanently, in order to allow for the download and installation of essential updates, antivirus checks and security issues).
The result is as follows:
Using 100 standard computers produces 69,205.8 kg CO2e per annum. (source: https://www.orbuk.org.uk/)
For the ordinary user, the computing power of the Internet is more or less invisible. But in the background, huge data centers are working around the clock to process our videos, podcasts, music, news, memes, messages and everything else the Internet offers and send them around the world.
We don’t think twice about how much we contribute to the climate change as the digital age moves on and production and usage numbers score higher every day.
We are so accustomed to being able to access content quickly, regardless of time or place, that we are insufficiently aware of how our behavior is increasing our personal carbon footprint. Of course, it’s impossible to measure exactly how big your personal contribution to climate change is.
- become involved with local or national carbon reduction activities
- adjust the settings for mains operation and battery consumption of your devices
- if you dim your monitor down to 70%, it uses one-fifth less energy.
- downloading instead of streaming. Streaming music or videos also increases our digital carbon footprint.
- recycle your internet searches. Instead of doing a completely new search, you can jump straight to the target, reducing your carbon footprint.
- block automatic video playback. Playing online videos consumes energy. Therefore, videos that we might not want to watch should be stopped automatically.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
- allow yourself to be bored! Instead of taking your phone out of your pocket every free second, you could try daydreaming or watching people on the street. Not only will you be helping the environment (even a tiny contribution helps), but you’ll also be doing something for your head and heart.