The Internet's Carbon Footprint

IRL: Online Life Is Real Life

Jul 15 2019 • 28 mins

Manoush Zomorodi explores the surprising environmental impact of the internet in this episode of IRL. Because while it’s easy to think of the internet as living only on your screen, energy demand for the internet is indeed powered by massive server farms, running around the clock, all over the world. What exactly is the internet’s carbon footprint? And, what can we do about it?

Music professor Kyle Devine considers the environmental costs of streaming music. Geophysicist and pop scientist Miles Traer takes his best shot at calculating the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast. Climate journalist Tatiana Schlossberg explores the environmental influence we don’t know we have and what the web’s got to do with it. Greenpeace’s Gary Cook explains which tech companies are committed to renewable energy — and which are not. Kris De Decker tries powering his website with a homebrew solar power system. And, Ecosia's Chief Tree Planting Officer Pieter Van Midwoud discusses how his company uses online search to plant trees.

IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Love the internet, but also love the environment? Here are some ways you can reduce your energy consumption — or offset it — while online.

Learn more about Kyle Devine’s research on the environmental costs of music streaming.

For more from Tatiana Schlossberg, check out her book, Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have.

Have a read through Greenpeace’s Click Clean Report that Gary Cook discusses in this IRL episode.

You can find solar-powered Low Tech Magazine here and, if the weather is bad, you can view the archive here.

As Pieter Van Midwoud notes, Ecosia uses the money it makes from your online searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Learn more about Ecosia, an alternative to Google Search.

Here’s more about Miles Traer, the geophysicist who calculated the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast.

And, if you’re interested in offsetting your personal carbon emissions overall, Carbonfund.org can help with that.

The sound of a data center in this episode is courtesy of artist Matt Parker. Download his music here.

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