Earth Week 2014 Monday: Green Internet

Happy Earth Week! In celebration of Earth Day tomorrow, I am dedicating each post this week to an environmental issue or an explanation of something related to Earth Day.

Today’s topic is a green/sustainable internet. I came across this issue when a Greenpeace petition popped up on my Twitter feed about greening the internet.

Greenpeace’s “Clicking Clean” white paper/fact sheet issued in April 2014 gives explains that internet data centers, like those of Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn are using fossil fuels to power their data centers and therefore contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Everything that you pin on Pinterest, tweet on Twitter, post on Tumblr and share on LinkedIn is somewhere on a server somewhere. Did you ever think about that? Everything on the internet is backed up on a server somewhere – so can you imagine how many servers exist?

Also according to the “Clicking Clean” findings, some major cloud companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google, have committed to a renewable energy goal. These three companies are constantly mentioned as the three who are committed to making the most difference and showing signs of early change. However, they cite Amazon as the company with the “dirtiest” servers.

Below: Greenpeace made a “scorecard” chart for each company.

There is a website called CleanBits which provides a list of carbon neutral web hosts. A green-internet blog supports efforts such as these and believes that the rapidly expanding internet needs to mitigate itself to help.

A Computer Society paper by Conte and Mao was published in 2013 that states some of the same findings: information technology (aka internet stuffs) is responsible for 4 percent of the world’s energy usage, and with more internet in more places (and more of the internet being used) this is only going get worse).

What’s the take-away? That we are using too much internet. This sounds familiar – doesn’t it? We are using too much of everything, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like it can be fixed very easily. I would argue that this problem can be helped with alternative energy, and lucky for us, alternative energy is on the rise.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Earth Day 2014!

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