Technology despite its immense contribution to the society and economy has increasing detrimental effects on the environment. A new environmental study suggests that keeping the camera switched off during the Zoom meetings can actually reduce the person's carbon footprint during the call by 96 per cent.
The study conducted by the researchers from Purdue University, Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was published in the peer-reviewed journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling.
Ever since the pandemic began there has been sudden a shift from everything that happened offline to online mode: school, office work, celebrations and even social gatherings and meetings. An increase in the streaming of more entertainment has also been recorded particularly in online streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime etc.
The study also revealed that streaming video and online content in a standard definition instead of a high definition can also reduce the emission of carbon dioxide levels by 86 per cent. The resources associated with each GB of data used by Youtube, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram and online gaming was also examined.
A single hour of video streaming or conferencing requires about 2 to 12 litres of water, a land area that is equivalent to the size of an iPad mini and emits 150-1000 grams of carbon dioxide. The more video used in an application meant more carbon emissions.
The study which is the first of its kind to analyse carbon, water and land footprint associated with internet usage, made use of publicly available data from service providers from around the world.
According to the researchers, the spike in carbon emission with the use of the internet is due to the ways in which internet data is stored and transferred. The data processing requires a lot of electricity which in turn has carbon and land footprints.
Many countries have already reported a 20 per cent spike in internet usage and the study predicts that if the current state continues until the end of 2021, it will require about 18 thousand square kilometres of forest, a land size equivalent to Los Angeles and about 3 Lakh Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water.
Internet service providers, app developers and online streaming platforms have to be more transparent about the carbon footprint and other environmental concerns so that consumers can make informed choices and decisions while online, because this indeed is an overlooked way through which people bring harm to the environment unconsciously.