In today’s world, it’s very unusual for individuals to not access the internet on a daily basis. In fact, on average, a person spends 6 hours and 57 minutes looking at a screen that requires the internet. With so much time being spent, it raises the question, is the internet driving climate change?
On one hand, you can argue that internet usage just boils down to electricity use. After all, the devices you are viewing the internet need electricity and the servers that make sure it runs also require electricity. However, that’s really just scratching the surface.
Think about it; how many businesses only exist because of the internet? A great example of this would be a company like Amazon. It might be an online business, but it has real-world storage facilities, trucks, ships, planes, and waste.
Amazon is just one of the thousands of businesses that exist as a result of the internet. And the carbon footprint is visible for all to see.
It’s Not Just Online Only Businesses Traditional Stores Have Adapted
Now. to just say online-only businesses are the culprit is incorrect. Brick and motor businesses have had to adapt their business models to survive in an online world. Thus, the internet is directly affecting traditional retail and restaurants.
For instance, the days of a product not being available at your local store are over (at least when there aren’t shortages). You can easily request a product online and have it delivered to the store in question. Or, just have it show up at your home.
One of the most impacted industries is actually restaurants. Even before the pandemic, platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and about a dozen other delivery services existed. While delivery isn’t new, these services are only possible as a result of the internet.
Restaurants that don’t have these options tend to be ignored by younger generations. They not only serve customers as a way to provide food but also to generate reviews.
This type of logic can be applied to almost every business or activity. The internet has changed it.
Calculating the Impact the Internet Has on Climate Change Is Impossible
Unfortunately, if you look up data about the emissions that come from the internet, you will get a very small idea of the impact.
In fact, it actually varies by source. But generally speaking, it is 2 to 3 percent of the global total.
The reason that the internet doesn’t seem like a huge problem is that these measurements are based solely on electricity usage. And they don’t even include all of it.
For instance, think about large-scale companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and literally thousands of other websites. The emissions they produce are only possible as a result of the internet.
The increase in product accessibility is also another key factor that has driven up demand severalfold over the years. All of these factors are largely ignored, and end up in different categories when looking at emissions.
But when you look at the whole picture, it becomes pretty clear that the internet is having a serious impact on climate change.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.