Dec 12, 2022

Video streaming as polluting as driving? See the new calculations

Posted by in categories: climatology, entertainment, internet

Could video streaming be as bad for the climate as driving a car? Calculating Internet’s hidden carbon footprint.

We are used to thinking that going digital means going green. While that is true for some activities — for example, making a video call to the other side of the ocean is better than flying there — the situation is subtler in many other cases. For example, driving a small car to the movie theatre with a friend may have lower carbon emissions than streaming the same movie alone at home.

How do we reach this conclusion? Surprisingly, making these estimates is fairly complicated.


This is remarkable given that we have been able to estimate quite accurately phenomena that are much more complex. In this case, we would only need quantitative information – the electrical energy and the amount of data used – that can be determined with great accuracy. The current situation is not acceptable and should be addressed soon by policymakers.

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