In recent years, the Internet has experienced tremendous expansion and now plays a key role in many aspects of economic and social activities. More than 4.6 billion people have mobile phone subscriptions, and 1.5 billion people utilize the Internet, making increased access to ICT a worldwide success story.
With the internet, people all over the world can debate various topics, as well as share their thoughts and information. However, many have yet to fully understand the effect of this universal space on climate change.
In this article, we want to emphasize both the positive aspects and the negative aspects of the internet.
The Internet as a Means to Spread Climate Change Awareness
The internet has shown to be a fantastic tool for both gaining knowledge and expressing oneself. Social media platforms, in particular, have aided in bridging gaps and bringing people together for a similar purpose. Various social movements have gained traction on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and have aided in making a difference.
Technology advancements have opened the path for internet access; we now utilize tiny communication devices to access social networks at any time and from anywhere. People may now get these created smart devices at extremely low costs from anywhere in the country.
Environmentalists are making extensive use of the internet to raise awareness of environmental threats. Various social media platforms have helped to popularize movements like “get green” and “reduce plastic waste.”
Environmentalists employ a variety of methods to disseminate information about environmental issues and solutions, including blog articles, YouTube videos, Facebook advertisements, and webinars.
Schools, universities, and other academic centers are playing an active role in spreading environmental awareness among the students. All of that was made possible when we have updated our academic centers with technology and the internet.
The Importance of Social Media in the 21st Century
For every one of us, social media has become a daily habit. Currently, it is a low-cost and widely available electronic tool. It allows us to produce and access information, as well as develop relationships and professional networks.
Through social media, all individuals feel linked and informed of what is going on across the world. Because there are billions of individuals on social media platforms, the platforms have expanded at an exponential rate since their inception. Like the newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become sources of information for many individuals.
- By 2020, more than 4.5 billion people will be online
- The number of people utilizing social media will have topped 3.8 billion
- Over half of the world’s population utilizes social media
- The average amount of time spent on social media each day is 2 hours and 24 minutes
The Connection Between Social Media and Awareness
Environmental awareness is one of the pre-essentials for environmental perspective and behavioral change in caring for the natural environment in the face of impending climate change and global warming. And education plays a very vital role in terms of outreaching environmental awareness to students.
It has arisen lots of attention among help groups, the people, and the government, which in turn encourage individuals to take action. It thus helps in inspiring environmental activism with the help of messages such as slogans, videos, stories and photos on responsible behaviors.
In addition, many Twitter and Instagram users actively share real-time videos or photos on various environmental issues. From illegal poaching and trading, air pollution, to water and littering wastes, they cover them all.
Using social media as an aspect of education is a great solution. Studies have found that about 5% of people use social media to improve their study and general knowledge. This makes social media perfect for raising worldwide environmental awareness.
However, the role of social media in raising environmental awareness remains underappreciated. Many environmental groups and activists have blogs that attempt to raise environmental awareness.
Social media has become critical in many aspects of our lives, from entertainment to emails, education, news, and online shopping. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and others, are a crucial tool for organizations and governments to advertise themselves, as well as for businesses to market their products.
The Words Have Reached Big Retailers and Brands
Nowadays, the average consumers are becoming more careful about their purchasing decisions as a result of social media, according to research. However, sustainable products are widely popular these days, so they still tend to buy such items. Every business, including clothing, automobiles, petroleum, and cosmetics, is confronting the same changing consumer trend.
To improve their brand reputation, companies have begun partnering with environmental protection organizations. Integrating environmental considerations into brand values boosts consumer loyalty and revenue. In the present climate, brands are conscious of the values they hold and the causes they support, which leads to increased customer loyalty.
Carbon Footprint of the Internet
What Is The Internet Pollution?
Internet pollution, also known as the influence of the Internet on the environment, refers to any digital activity that emits greenhouse gases. In reality, customers are often unaware of this harmful external usage of new technology.
The digital world has a significant environmental effect and a high carbon footprint, accounting for 4% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. All due to the exceedingly fast growth of the internet across the globe. In addition, this amount is likely to climb as a result of this expansion.
Many people associate the Internet with dematerialization ( “Dematerialization Through Electronic Media?”). However, the Internet is not dematerialized; rather, it is built on a physical infrastructure. Indeed, the internet’s operation is supported by a vast network of cables, data centers, and servers:
- In the United States alone, there exist 2,751 data centers across the country, plus an additional 484 data centers in Germany. With 458, the United Kingdom placed third among countries in terms of the number of data centers, whereas China had 447.
- In France and its overseas territories, 2 58 944 relay antennas have now been deployed.
- France generates 45.72 kg of electrical and electronic garbage each second.
The Digital Activities Are Responsible For 4% of all Greenhouse Gases.
Sending an email, using search engines, storing data pollute: the web generates today 4% of the CO2 emissions of the planet. What’s more, the figure increases by 5 to 7% each year… The situation has become alarming! However, it’s only just the beginning of a new form of pollution.
Simple daily behaviors like sending emails, using the internet, using search engines, or storing data have a substantial environmental cost:
- A Google search produces the equivalent of 5 to 7 grams of CO2.
- According to the ADEME, the carbon cost of an email containing a 1 MB attachment is 19 grams of CO2. It may appear insignificant, but when we consider the overall global email traffic, the problem soon becomes more than significant. More than twelve billion emails are exchanged every hour, equivalent to more than 4,000 tons of oil.
“Dormant pollution” is one of the most common types of digital pollution. It’s because of email storage. Many servers in data centers operate continuously due to all the emails saved in a mailbox. Data centers, on the other hand, consume a lot of energy and must be kept cool all the time. As a result, data storage generates enough electricity to run five nuclear power plants throughout the planet! And it’s only the start… In fact, the amount of stored data doubles every two years.
“Did you know: Scientists can now recycle Carbon dioxide production?”
The conversion turns CO2 into short molecules like carbon monoxide and methane using energy, water, and a variety of catalysts. Scientists then combine to make more complex hydrocarbon fuels like butane.
The process is quite easy to grasp. CO2 is first captured from power plants—maybe even straight from the atmosphere—and converted into these fuels on a large scale. Researchers believe we are on the verge of a CO2-recycling revolution.
Streaming services like Netflix also contribute to the pollution
“CO2 emissions from 30 minutes of Netflix is the same as driving 4 miles”
The above headline has been repeated in a number of huge media publications, including the New York Post, CBC, Yahoo, DW, Gizmodo, Phys.org, BigThink and ThePrint.
The findings come from a research published in July 2019 by the Shift Project. According to the data, streaming emitted more than 300 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) in 2018, which is similar to France’s emissions.
What about Netflix’s Own Statistics?
Netflix has released some statistics on its emissions for the first time, based on the data. According to the firm, one hour of streaming emits less than 100 grams of CO2 (emissions from all greenhouse gases, not just CO2). According to Wired, this is equivalent to driving a car for a quarter-mile or operating a 1,000-watt air conditioner for 15 minutes in the United States (and for 40 minutes in Europe).
Netflix will soon be able to answer this question. The streaming service is thriving, earning $6.6 billion in sales last quarter. However, it has yet to publish an emissions reduction target. Netflix has stated that it would do so in the coming weeks.
In addition, diminishing efficiency improvements, rebound effects, and new demands from emerging technologies like as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain raise worries about the sector’s total environmental implications in the next decades.
There is a definite correlation between the internet and a shift in climate change. The internet is a potent media tool for raising awareness about environmental concerns among its users.
However, it also contributes to causing global warming. While its effect on climate change may seem small compared to obvious factors like gas emissions and deforestation, it’s still a concern worth mentioning.
So, starting today, we should all take a vow and commit to utilizing the internet in its good aspects. More specifically, we should use it as a green instrument to conserve the environment, nature, and animals.