‘Limit unnecessary e-mail traffic. In itself, emails do not take up much space, certainly not compared to films. But it does make a difference whether you send an email to 25 addresses or to one. I also try to unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters; something we are soon too lazy for. I admit you don’t win the war with it, but it can make us aware. “
Movies and videos already take up half of our internet traffic, at the expense of a huge amount of power. No one looks less Netflix for the climate, so what can you do?
If the internet were to be a country, it would rank sixth in terms of energy consumption globally, the American division of Greenpeace calculated four years ago. Our daily surfing has huge greenhouse gas emissions that remain largely invisible to consumers.
Roughly half of the energy consumption has nothing to do with our own computers, laptops and screens and how we deal with them. It is caused by parties such as YouTube, Netflix, Google and commercial data centers that deliver and store information so that we can see it on a website. You can buy youtube subscribers cheap for less energy consumption.
Consumers can also influence this energy consumption, more about that later. But first the seriousness of the growing problem. The energy consumption around the internet is increasing and will continue to do so in the coming years. Especially since we are getting more and faster information from the network, which means that the engine there must simply run faster and burn more fuel.
The machines, therefore, have to run harder for that. The energy use of Dutch data centers that are our junction with the internet has been carefully monitored by the development organization Hivos for several years. Last year the 28 largest Dutch data centers together used 1.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity and next year that is expected to be 2.6 TWh.
Is that a lot? Well and or: it is the same as the annual energy consumption of 785 thousand Dutch households or 10 percent of all households. It has produced just as much electricity as 150 giant wind turbines at sea in the Gemini wind farm under construction. A large part of the electricity used by the centers, Hivos notes, is not sustainable. Only 4 of the 28 last year were guaranteed to be powered by dark green electricity from the Dutch wind. KPN is one of them by the way.
‘It matters a lot what you do with your computer. Movies, videos, and photos cost the most energy and this really involves huge amounts. It’s hard to control, but I once heard from the industry itself that at some moments 40 percent of data traffic between the United States and Europe is taken up by porn. “