Our Habits: A Threat to Our Planet

Computer and internet usage has risen dramatically for many during a global pandemic. Everyone uses the internet more, from Zoom quizzes to singing classes, workshops, and family chats. Approximately 4.1 billion people, or 53.6% of the global population, now use the Internet. Those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity,  can add up. According to some estimates, the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet, and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally, explains Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University. Furthermore, these emissions are predicted to double by 2025.

Digitalization is driving several “disruptive” changes within the energy sector, which can negatively and positively impact energy transitions. Cutting down paper-based news and advertisement with the help of online portals is an excellent help for the environment. But there is always a dark side behind the light. The excessive use of the internet produces a large amount of carbon dioxide and consumes considerable energy.

Nowadays, we cannot imagine a morning when we did not send an email or scroll in our social media feeds. As calculated by Eco2 Greetings, text-based emails emit about 4 grams of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). The source also estimates that an average year of emailing emits about 136 kilograms of CO2e, which is about the same impact as driving 200 miles in a gas-powered car.

When you read this, you may be sent a message on WhatsApp, posted a photo on Instagram, or attended a Zoom meeting. Many internets and social media users do not think their online habits have much of an impact on the environment, but according to The Shift Project, a Paris-based climate think tank, the carbon footprint of our gadgets accounts for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, which is more than the amount produced by the aviation industry and is set to double by 2025. This already colossal amount is increasing as more of us are working from home and staying in more due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Yale-led study.

Over the past decade, the demand for computing power increased exponentially, making data centers a fast-growing industry. They are a massive part of what allows us to live our modern, digitized lives. Moreover, they are essential enablers for more efficient services and the transition to a green economy. For instance, they are reducing traveling by facilitating increased use of videoconference meetings and enabling smart technologies that make our lives greener and more comfortable. However, there is a flip side to the coin: data centers use immense amounts of energy. They already use more than 2% of the world’s electricity and contribute 2% of its CO2 emissions – equivalent to the entire airline industry. So why are data centers so energyintensive? The simple answer is computational power and cooling. The servers require large amounts of energy for computing. This energy is dissipated as heat within a relatively small area. Moreover, the heat must be continuously removed because the IT equipment is sensitive to high temperatures.

As illustrated in the figure above, the energy requirement for cooling typically accounts for a large share of data center energy consumption.

Data centers require a tremendous amount of energy to operate, accounting for around 1.8% of electricity use in the United States. Large amounts of water are also required to operate data centers directly for liquid cooling and indirectly to produce electricity. Approximately 0.5% of total US greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to data centers. Data centers are now on the radar of environmental groups for their carbon emissions, which account for 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year. 

A sustainable Website may be a savior

According to the online carbon calculator Website Carbon, the average website produces 1.76g of CO2 for every page view, so a site with 100,000 page views per month emits 2,112kg of CO2 annually. So, a sustainable website can be a savior for our earth. Every website affects our environment. For example, fsharmin.com produces 0.16 gm of CO2  every time someone visits this website. Over a year, with 10,000-page views, this website produces 19.24 kg of CO2, the same weight as 0.13 sumo wrestlers, and as much CO2 as boiling water for 2,607 cups. For more clarity, this web page emits the amount of carbon that one tree absorbs in a year and 44kwh of energy which is enough to drive an electric car 279km. So, it is high time to build a web-friendly website for all the purposes.

Ways to Build a Sustainable website

It is high time to think about building eco-friendly websites to save our planet and energy. Web designers can minimalize carbon emission and energy consumption by decreasing the size of images, avoiding videos, and cutting down unnecessary content. They can use icons fonts instead of images. It is better to use SVG  graphics and CSS instead of JEPG, PNG, and GIF. TinyPNG or ShortPixel can be used to compress images.

Setting autoplay videos caused a massive amount of energy consumption. Currently, it is typical for commercial websites to post videos and images of a product. Also, they use a different background in the photos to make them alluring. However, it is unnecessary; they are producing more carbon footprints and affecting the environment. It is better to Use sprites instead of lots of little images.

 Reduce tracking and advertising scripts that rarely offer any value to the user can be added to-do list. Webpages should have different divisions so that users can find out their desired section in a short time and do not have to navigate because it consumes much energy. Avoiding geo-location requests is another great idea as they draw much energy from the device.

Green Hosting  Choosing green hosting is another exciting idea, and it has some advantages. It ensures a better user experience by improving the oversiz3ed images and properly sizing them. It also helps improve wbsite load speed and trim down the bulky Javascript.  The lesser the load speed, the longer the sessions, the lower the bounce rate, and higher the ad viewability.

Global warming has become a severe issue in the present world. Modern technologies use much energy to ensure a better living for human beings. But, by doing this, we are threatening our mother nature. It is excellent that there is always a way to minimize the danger, and it will be wise to adopt that. Building a sustainable website can be a more incredible help to our planet.