Tuesday 16 July 2019

Streaming online porn produces as much CO2 as the whole of Belgium

The digital sector needs to be more heavily scrutinised in light of an urgent need to reduce global emissions, researchers say. (stock photo)
The digital sector needs to be more heavily scrutinised in light of an urgent need to reduce global emissions, researchers say. (stock photo)

Phoebe Weston

Streaming online pornography produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as Belgium, according to a new report by French think-tank The Shift Project.

Researchers found that overall online videos emit 300 million tonnes of carbon each year and a third of this comes from streaming videos with pornographic content.

The research, which was led by engineer Maxime Efoui-Hess who specialises in computer modelling, found that the energy consumption of digital technologies is increasing by 9pc a year. Some 60pc of world data flows come from online video.

The digital sector needs to be more heavily scrutinised in light of an urgent need to reduce global emissions, researchers say.

They write: "The direct and indirect environmental impacts ("rebound effects") linked to the uses of digital technologies are both unsustainable and increasingly rapid."

In total, digital technologies emit 4pc of greenhouse gas emissions which is greater than civil aviation. Moves to create higher quality videos are pushing up these emissions which are set to double between now and 2025.

"This once again demonstrates the need for the designers of digital services to think carefully about the overall impact of the services they provide. For individuals, upgrading our devices less often, owning less devices and not demanding mobile high-quality internet connection everywhere are probably the most important actions we can take," Chris Preist, from the University of Bristol, told 'New Scientist'.

The authors of the report worked out global video traffic by looking at 2018 reports by companies Cisco and Sandvine.

They then worked out how much electricity was needed to drive this traffic.

They recommend bringing in measures to prevent videos autoplaying or transmitting videos in high definition when it is not needed.

For example, they say the deployment of high-resolution technology like "8K" could be an unnecessary extravagance when lower quality would suffice.

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