Well, this is depressing - or - I guess you should stop watching our videos

As I sit here working on our new music video for “Feel Machine” I am faced with this report from the Shift Project on the carbon emissions from the internet and specifically streaming online videos.

Here is a basic breakdown supplied by a news article with the unfortunate and very click-baity, but kinda funny, title, “Streaming online pornography produces as much CO2 as Belgium”. But don’t be fooled. It’s not just porn. Streaming TV/movies, social media, and YouTube are all culprits.

The transmission and viewing of online videos generates 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or nearly 1 per cent of global emissions. On-demand video services such as Netflix account for a third of this, with online pornographic videos generating another third.

This means the watching of pornographic videos generates as much CO2 per year as is emitted by countries such as Belgium, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

That’s the conclusion of a French think tank called The Shift Project. Earlier this year, it estimated that digital technologies produce 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and that this figure could soar to 8 per cent by 2025.

Now it has estimated the CO2 emissions due to online videos alone. The report’s authors used 2018 reports by companies Cisco and Sandvine to work out global video internet traffic. They then estimated how much electricity was used to carry this video data and view it on different devices, from phones to TVs.

Finally, they estimated the overall emissions using global average figures for carbon emissions from electricity generation.

Online video accounted for 60 per cent of global data flows in 2018, the report states, or 1 zettabyte of data (one thousand billion billion bytes). The report’s definition of “online video” does not include live video streaming such as Skype video calls, “camgirls” or telemedicine, which account for another 20 per cent of global data flows.
— New Scientist

And this straight from the source.

Digital technologies now emit 4% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and its energy consumption is increasing by 9% a year. The Shift Project published in March 2019 the rapport “Lean ICT – Towards Digital Sobriety” (2019). In it we recommended making digital transition compatible with climate imperatives and the constraints of resources. Digital sobriety consists in prioritizing the allocation of resources as a function of uses, in order to conform to the planet’s physical boundaries, while preserving the most valuable societal contributions of digital technologies. This requires questioning the pertinence of how we use digital technologies, one of which is online video whose use we focus on in this new report.
— “Climate crisis: The unsustainable use of online video – A practical case study for digital sobriety” (2019).

So, maybe just don’t watch our music videos or that new season of Stranger Things?

- J