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Discussion on: DON'T add a video background to your landing page to make it more gorgeous [TW: gratuitous swearing]

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava

1GB of data download cannot produce 3kg of CO2 unless you use a really obsolete computers powered by very primitive steam machine, and even so I would be really surprised.

And when talking about computers I am talking about clients and servers.

Use your brain, people. It is virtually impossible to get such a number if you know a bit of physics.

You are only harming ecology claiming such ridiculous nonsense.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial Author

I picked the most extreme article to prove a point.

But you are correct if this were a journalistic piece about the climate impact of data transmission I would deserve to be shot. 🀣

In reality the more accurate figure in a country that is fibre based, uses renewable energy in the data centres and has modern exchanges on most of its network would be about 75 times less than that (e.g. UK, Germany etc). On a country utilising copper wires and old tech (of which there are plenty) the figure is actually on the low side.

As for the physics part that is nonsense, you could easily use physics to prove that transmission costs could be multitudes higher if the wrong medium for transmission was used and depending on the distance due to losses to heat etc. If you have to boost the signal 50 times between the server and the end client there can be massive costs.

A better argument would have been money as @miketalbot said, it would be easy to work out that 5kwh / GB would bankrupt most companies. Yet again though, depends on the Country and infrastructure so we can’t make sweeping claims.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

I agree, the paper (not sure it is peer reviewed) that the linked article refers to implies that watching a movie costs $1.54 in energy in 2012. God knows what this would do to the business model of Google and Facebook et al with their streaming video ads and 1bn impression content. If this were true, surely there must be a huge amount of quantitive easing in the energy market to invent the money for this as otherwise no internet company would be viable.

I think that the potentially dodgy math shouldn't diminish the point that efficiency in data transmission is an important topic in reducing carbon emissions and we should seek to do this. I would argue that it is more likely that we are being efficient using the Internet to watch movies compared to the process of making physical things out of plastic as a delivery device, that notwithstanding transmitting unnecessary data must have an impact on some scale.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial Author

As always a nice and balanced response!

As I said the amount in a Country with modern architecture the actually amount is somewhere around 45g of CO2 per GB so far less impact than I made it appear!

It would be super interesting that if we ignored plastic waste whether a blue ray was better for the environment than streaming in 4K in terms of CO2, what a great idea for an article!