New research says that simply turning off the camera during virtual meetings can potentially help the planet. It doesn’t just hide the clutter behind but it poses a friendly gesture to the environment as it minimizes carbon footprints.
The report reveals that due to the lockdowns caused by the pandemic, global carbon emissions have gone down. With many companies shutting down, less travel and lesser vehicles going around resulted in lesser fuel consumption. Yet staying more at home also resulted in more home entertainment which the study says, can foster a negative impact on the environment. Multitudes of data have been transmitting across the globe via the internet. Increased internet usage may have some impacts that have not yet been known.
Turning off camera reduces carbon footprints
One hour of doing video conferencing or streaming can potentially release about 150 to 1,500 grams of carbon dioxide, as specified in the report. This would be equivalent to a gallon of gasoline burned from a vehicle.
The study proposes that simply turning off the camera during a web call can reduce carbon footprints by 96%. Furthermore, streaming online using standard definition or SD rather than the high definition or HD could reduce carbon emission by 86%.
Researchers from Yale University, Purdue University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology conduct a study that analyzes the water and land carbon footprints. The analysis is based on the internet infrastructure impact to the environment. Resources, Conservation & Recycling journal is where the results were published.
According to Roshanak Nateghi, an industrial engineering professor from Purdue University, it is important to have a more holistic understanding of the environmental impact. Because focusing only on a single type of footprint analysis will miss out on some important data. Nateghi aims to bridge the gaps and some assumptions as research seems to take lightly the impacts of climate change.
Increasing Internet Traffic
The study has shown that in several countries there has been a 20% increase in internet traffic since March 2020. If the trend is allowed to continue, the increased internet usage might need a forest of about 71,600 square miles to sequester the carbon being released to the environment.
Researchers also said that to process and transmit data additional water will be needed. The additional water needed will be sufficient to fill more than 300,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Expected, the more video streaming requires bigger footprints. Processing of data utilizes a certain amount of electricity and every electricity produced requires carbon, water and land footprints. Thus, increasing usage increases the requirements for water and land.
Kaveh Madani, a visiting fellow at Yale MacMillan Center, led this new research. Kaveh said that the banking industry has already helped minimize the impact to the environment by simply going paperless. However, the banking system has been transitioning to digital banking that requires more internet usage.
Even before the pandemic, there has been an increase in carbon footprints in relation to internet usage. It accounted for about 3.7% of the total greenhouse gas emission globally.