It is one thing to be aware of the carbon emissions of online activities (running a website, internet searches, emails, social media, video/music streaming), yet quite another knowing how to reduce it.
According to the Energy Helpline‘s Guide to Global Internet Energy Use, 1% of global electricity use is consumed by data centres around the world and 3.7% of global emissions arise from the use of the internet. Helpfully, the Guide also makes some suggestions on how to reduce your online carbon footprint. Switching to renewable energy providers and using lower resolution for video streaming are examples.
As host to my own website and blog, I also checked out website carbon calculators, such as the one by websitecarbon.com and Ryte, and am currently investigating how I may make my online presence more sustainable. An obvious starting point is to use images of lower resolution on my site and to enquire with WordPress why, so far, only 50% of their energy needs are covered with renewable energy. I can also close down my personal blog and avoid social media. However, when it comes to citizen science projects, such as NASA GLOBE Cloud Challenge, my prospects of reducing my online carbon footprint, short of not submitting data daily, is limited. The concept of ‘environmental net gain’ is worth consideration here, and with everything we do.
Essentially, there are a lot of resources out there and many ways to reduce and mitigate or offset – the important thing is to take the first steps and then keep walking.