Once Saturday movie night meant to travel and walk a long to reach the cinema or grab the disk from the movie store. At the touch of a finger, Netflix or other video streaming softwares now deliver endless binge-worthy choices and have taken over our lives and restricted us to the side couches at home or on our beds. Yet experts say a high environmental price tag comes with the convenience of streaming services.
Watching a half-hour show would result in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of 1.6 kilograms, the Shift Project said Maxime Efoui-Hess from the French think tank. That’s 3.9 miles (6.28 kilometers) walking. Last year, online video sharing created Spain’s equivalent emissions, which, according to the Shift Project, could double in the next six years.
While most online traffic— 34 percent — is linked to streaming videos, the next biggest market, for example, is online porn on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. “Digital videos come in very large file sizes and (are) getting bigger with each new higher-definition video generation,” said Greenpeace’s Gary Cook, who tracks the energy footprint of the IT sector.
“More data is the energy needed to keep a system ready to stream this video to your device at a notice,” Cook told AFP. The data center absorbs much of the energy needed for streaming services, transmitting information to your computer or device, Cook explained. According to a Nature study, the centers contribute about 0.3 percent of all carbon emissions. Experts remain divided on ho much that number will grow.
Waste of resources on all levels
“For energy consumption to stay flat for the next five to ten years, significant improvements must be made in the quality of IT equipment and data center power or our appetite for computing must decrease,” said Dale Sartor of the Center of Expertise for Data Centers, connected to the U.S. Department of Energy.