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Internet users are killing the planet

Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 19:59:54

I've always maintained that just about everyone is releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere, and the resultant global warming will eventually cause us some very big problems, and just possibly produce another mass extinction event (i.e. "kill the planet").

Here's more evidence of that idea....studies now show that huge amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere by the consumption of digital content on the internet.

internet-video-porn-carbon-dioxide-emissions-research

the numbers are stunning.....when you add up all the CO2 released by on-line internet users, it comes to 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (resulting from energy consumption). Most of this is for people watching videos, with porn videos alone ‘emitting’ just under 100 million tonnes per year – nearly as much as Belgium and Kuwait.

...video-on-demand services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime generated the same volume of greenhouse gas emissions as the entire economy of Chile.

Total global CO2 emissions are ca. 33+ gigatons per year, so the internet now accounts for almost 1 percent of global CO2 emissions. Even more concerning, the internet continues to grow at a rapid rate and CO2 emissions from internet viewers also continue to rapidly grow. At a time when coal and oil and gas are under fire for their associated CO2 emissions, we can't ignore the rapidly increasing demand for energy from the internet, which didn't exist 25 years ago and now is reposnble for hundreds of tons CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year.

Cheers!
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Ibon » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 21:30:45

External pollution in terms of CO2 emissions and internal pollution in terms of the content.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby dohboi » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 21:50:43

:)

Good points, P and I.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 22:38:56

Plantagenet wrote:I've always maintained that just about everyone is releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere, and the resultant global warming will eventually cause us some very big problems, and just possibly produce another mass extinction event (i.e. "kill the planet").

Here's more evidence of that idea....studies now show that huge amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere by the consumption of digital content on the internet.

internet-video-porn-carbon-dioxide-emissions-research

the numbers are stunning.....when you add up all the CO2 released by on-line internet users, it comes to 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (resulting from energy consumption). Most of this is for people watching videos, with porn videos alone ‘emitting’ just under 100 million tonnes per year – nearly as much as Belgium and Kuwait.

OK. That's a lot of CO2 in absolute terms.

However, given what folks can/could be doing if they were not spending time online, it might well be even worse.

Examples:

1). Driving somewhere to be entertained.

2). Consuming things, to be entertained.

3). How about online shopping. OK, if I buy consumables from Amazon, that produces CO2. However, by doing that online and having the USPS or UPS efficiently deliver the packages (one truck delivering MANY MANY packages to a given area) is going to consume less resources and do less damage to the roads by its small incremental fuel/damage for shopper X's packages than shopper X driving to and from Wal-mart, etc. to shop instead. (Now, multiply that by a bazillion shopping events made more efficient per year gobally).

4). Paper books not produced due to internet time spent instead.

5). CD's, DVD's, etc. not produced due to internet time spent instead.

6). Various toys and games not produced due to internet time spent instead.

...

So, I think that instead of only looking at the absolute amount of CO2 produced by a huge number of people spending a huge amount of time online on relatively efficent machines, and getting more efficient each decade, it would be better to evaluate how much CO2 all that browsing/viewing/working/playing spent online (and what it takes to produce the content viewed, run the internet resources, etc. -- which I assume are already factored into that estimate), it makes more sense to compare all that CO2 to the estimated aggregate CO2 if we were doing something else -- say, 60's to 80's style.

I obviously don't have all those figures, but intuitively, given how much CO2 doing things including spending money (per various green books on CO2 / global warming) produces -- I suspect all this is actually SAVING on a lot of net CO2 production.

....

Now, I know, we could all live like the Amish, and shun most technology and use a hell of a lot less energy. But unless all the power suddenly goes away, or God itself shows up and decrees it via force -- I don't see that happening in any shape or form.

IMO, it's not that the internet is "so bad", it's that it is so very big and so all-consuming of time of so many billions of people -- so in total, it consumes a lot of energy.

Given how huge it is globally, frankly I'm stunned it's NOT using far more energy than just the two countries mentioned.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 11:58:58

I think it is also useful to look at the benefits to society (and to some extent cleaner technologies) via the internet. I remember accessing the internet via the Unix machine sitting on my desk back in the early nineties, you had to understand Unix speak to some extent to get your way through all the various online "chats" but it was mostly between scientists and mainly concentrating on their own fields of endeavor. So there was some useful exchange which I think probably generated useful new ideas, but pretty much in a bubble. Then came Netscape. Originally it opened up the door for all sorts of frivolous stuff (i.e. cat pictures etc) but there did end up being sites dedicated to science etc. Through the years the generation of new ideas has increased substantially in my opinion and a lot of this has to do with the rapid exchange of ideas and news which generates further deep thinking and more new ideas. Online access to journals has been a big change as well. Previously if you were a scientist in a given field you generally subscribed to a few journals and then spent one or two days a month in the library pouring through the other journals looking for interesting abstracts etc. It was time-consuming and you often didn't come away with much useful and more often than not missed important items. Now with online access not only can you check the abstracts of pretty much all journals but you can also pay a fee to download or read the full articles (or if it is deemed important put it on your list to go and check out in the nearest university library). If you find something important you have the email contact for the authors and you can exchange ideas. My view is much of acceleration in rate of technological change in the past two decades has been aided substantially by the internet.
So, yes it outputs CO2 but the benefits probably outweigh that especially if by exchanging ideas there is a substantial improvement in things like battery storage and more effective emissions controls.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby asg70 » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 12:00:51

Plantagenet wrote:I've always maintained that just about everyone is releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere


Have you always maintained that? Even while flying from one point on the globe to another? Any chance you'll reconsider that sort of frequent-flyer lifestyle or is it far easier to just say we're all just as guilty as you are?

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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 22:09:24

Outcast_Searcher wrote:I know, we could all live like the Amish, and shun most technology and use a hell of a lot less energy. But unless all the power suddenly goes away, or God itself shows up and decrees it via force -- I don't see that happening in any shape or form.


Exactly right. I agree totally.

Thats essentially the point I am making with this thread. Ever since the industrial revolution humans have been pumping out excess CO2. Its easy to blame fossil fuels for this as their use directly releases CO2. But fossils fuels are laced through the entire economy and CO2 is released as a consequence of everything we do.......from shopping for food at the grocery store to listening to a podcast on your iPhone to buying an EV to posting on an internet website, just about everything we do in our modern world results in more and more CO2 being released to the atmosphere, and eventually killing the planet.


Outcast_Searcher wrote:IMO, it's not that the internet is "so bad", it's that it is so very big and so all-consuming of time of so many billions of people -- so in total, it consumes a lot of energy. Given how huge it is globally, frankly I'm stunned it's NOT using far more energy than just the two countries mentioned.


The study only considered CO2 emissions triggered by people surfing the internet for entertainment. I'm sure when you add in things like energy consumed by government, military and industrial use of the internet for business purposes the CO2 emissions would be several times greater then those just from people blogging and posting on websites and such.

Cheers!
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby kublikhan » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 22:45:28

Outcast_Searcher wrote:OK. That's a lot of CO2 in absolute terms.

However, given what folks can/could be doing if they were not spending time online, it might well be even worse.
Exactly. Of course online services produce co2 emissions, just like offline services produce co2 emissions. Doesn't mean we would be better off without online services. The offline services may very well produce more co2 emissions than the online services. Not to mention that there is an increase in value in the online service relative to the offline service. Do you really want to go back to hopping in your car, driving to the video rental store, picking out your movies, driving back home, watching the movies, driving back to the store to return the videos, then driving back home?

The full lifecycle emissions from a products’ consumption is in many cases dominated by the manufacturing processes and the product’s use. However, the emissions associated with the distribution of goods from manufacturer to consumer (the retailing process) also matter.

On the direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by the retailer, the evidence is clear and in favour of e-commerce. Online stores require data centres (which are increasingly powered by dedicated renewable energy installations) and a relatively small number of large distribution centres. By comparison, the environmental footprint created by an extensive retail store network - that is temperature controlled and well lit - is much larger.

There are a number of academic studies that are beginning to get more precise in the estimation of the current GHG emissions. A study by Dimitri Weideli at MIT Centre for Transportation and Logistics, assessed the carbon footprint of the buying process of a toy in an urban area. The research studied the buying process separated into ‘traditional shoppers’ and ‘cybernaughts’, looking at various different types of shopping process. In the chart below, which summarises the findings, the extent of the impact of customer transportation emissions for the traditional shopper is clear, as is the packing and parcel delivery related emissions associated with ecommerce.
How does e-commerce stack up on emissions?

ABSTRACT: Since the advent of the Internet in the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in online shopping in the United States. As online shopping keeps growing, so does the online retail industry. Multiple players are investing either through pure online retailing or by click and mortar retailing, which also has a physical presence and a face-to face experience with their customers. This thesis attempts to estimate and compare the carbon footprint of the shopping process through ten consumer buying behaviors representing different combinations of the search, purchase and return phases of the shopping process for three representative products (electronics, clothing and toys). Using Monte Carlo Simulation, multiple scenarios of supply chain configurations, consumer transportation choices, urban density, packaging and item bundling are evaluated. Results show that online shopping is the most environmentally friendly option in a wide range of scenarios.
Environmental Analysis of US Online Shopping

Life cycle analysis is a “systematic approach of looking at a product's complete life cycle, from raw materials to final disposal of the product. It offers a 'cradle to grave' look at a product or process, considering environmental aspects and potential impacts.” (Life Cycle Analysis: A Step by Step Approach, 2009, Aida Sefic Williams). When comparing emissions of e-commerce versus traditional retail, getting a product to the consumer is just one part of the puzzle. There’s also what happens before delivery, especially inventory logistics and packaging. I’m going to cut to the chase: e-commerce beats traditional retail hands-down. Here are a couple quotes.

“Our results confirm prior findings that e-commerce delivery uses less primary energy and produces less CO2 emissions than traditional retailing. Considering retail and e-commerce logistics differences, the three largest contributors were customer transport, packaging, and last mile delivery. Customer transport encompassed approximately 65% of the traditional retail primary energy expenditures and CO2 equivalent emissions on average. For e-commerce, packaging and last mile delivery were responsible for approximately 22% and 32% of the e-commerce energy usage, respectively. Overall, e-commerce had about 30% lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared to traditional retail using calculated mean values.”
Image

“…The bottom line? Unless you’re walking or biking to the bookstore, buying a book online results in lower carbon emissions than purchasing it from a traditional bookstore. Light-duty delivery vehicles operated by companies like UPS and FedEx travel well-designed routes that serve multiple consumers in a minimum of trips, achieving fuel economy higher than that of a typical individual consumer driving alone to make the same purchase.”
De-Carbonization Series: Retail vs E-Commerce - Life Cycle Analysis
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby GHung » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 09:03:08

I buy some things online rather than driving to pick them up (not that there's much nearby in my area anyway), and I don't do next-day shipping because of cost, and it generally means a special trip up here by Fedex or UPS. I almost always use USPS even if it means a few more days because they come every day anyway. The whole same/next day shipping thing seems wasteful and over-the-top to me.

America's addiction to absurdly fast shipping has a hidden cost

Search. Compare options. Click buy. Look out for a package on your doorstep the next day, or even that same day, without ever having to get in your car. The mail truck comes by and drops off your order with a bunch of others, probably on a route she would've been driving anyway, no extra trip needed. Totally green, right?
Well, not exactly.
In May, Amazon announced that tens of millions of items on its platform would be available not only for free two-day shipping, but same-day delivery, with a Prime subscription. Other retailers have no choice but to compete: Fast lead times at no extra charge can make the difference between winning the sale or losing it.
Following Amazon's rollout, Walmart unveiled free one-day shipping without a membership fee, and Target already had a free one-day program for its loyalty cardholders. According to the research firm Rakuten Intelligence, over the past two years the time from purchase to delivery has declined from 5.2 days to 4.3 days. Amazon is faster still, at 3.2 days on average.
The problem is, there is a cost to the environment — and retailers are doing a careful dance to try to mitigate it without turning customers away.
"The time in transit has a direct relationship to the environmental impact," says Patrick Browne, director of global sustainability at UPS. "I don't think the average consumer understands the environmental impact of having something tomorrow vs. two days from now. The more time you give me, the more efficient I can be." .........
https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/15/business ... index.html


Seems silly for me to work hard at keeping my impacts as low as possible then squander that on instant gratification.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 14:00:47

GHung wrote:I buy some things online rather than driving to pick them up (not that there's much nearby in my area anyway), and I don't do next-day shipping because of cost, and it generally means a special trip up here by Fedex or UPS. I almost always use USPS even if it means a few more days because they come every day anyway. The whole same/next day shipping thing seems wasteful and over-the-top to me.

That's a valid point, especially in rural areas where one doesn't see a UPS and Fedex truck in or near virtually every nearly neighborhood each business day and most Saturdays.

That kind of thing could be mitigated with appropriate CO2 taxes, of course. How we get the voters to want, much less tolerate that in the US is a key issue.

Of course, it's well known that more rural living has a higher CO2 footprint per capita. It's just a fact of life, given the high CO2 impact of transportation -- especially ICE driven transportation.

At this point, rural living is seen flatly as a "right" in the US. I think a CO2 tax helps deal with the issues of high CO2 producing living, be it driving giant pickup trucks and SUV's, living in the exurbs and commuting daily (which to me is pure madness for long commutes), frequent international vacations by jet (this is certainly not neccessary), and on and on.

But CO2 production and its cost should be at the CORE of our society, and it's clearly not. Until that changes, all the "Climate Accords", etc. are relatively meaningless.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby GHung » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 15:41:21

Outcast_Searcher wrote:......

Of course, it's well known that more rural living has a higher CO2 footprint per capita. It's just a fact of life, given the high CO2 impact of transportation -- especially ICE driven transportation.
.........


I'm not really sure about that, at least relative to suburbia. It depends on how and what's being calculated. Most folks I know around here have fairly short commutes without the traffic snarls. My wife's daily commute is 22 miles round trip mainly at highway speeds (only two traffic lights in the whole county). I do know retirees who take a drive every day just to get out. The devil in such studies is in the details I guess.
Me? They don't let me out much, and I'm happy tinkering around the house where probably 99% of our energy is very low carbon (solar and deadfall wood), as is our water (solar pumped). even this computer is solar powered as is our wireless ISP. The only wires into our property is the landline phone. Beyond that, we have little control.
Some weeks I may go to town once or twice (15 mile round trip), but we generally go to the next town over for basic shopping once/twice a month. That's about it. We do stay-cations here in our little paradise because 'real' vacations are expensive, consumptive, stressful, and people are freaking crazy for the most part. Our biggest impacts are probably when family comes to visit from out of town. I haven't flown in 23 years. My wife has twice in that time, once for work, once to visit a dying friend, both fairly short trips.
Most folks seem to be programmed to just keep moving around and burning stuff,, just because.
Planty asked me once what I do for a living. Mainly that would be not spending and consuming. When your monthly budget is comfortably under $1400, including all taxes, insurance, utilities, medical not covered under insurance, everything, you can save a lot without working your ass off. Not looking for excuses to spend,, and spending is always a proxy for consuming.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby Plantagenet » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 16:20:33

kublikhan wrote:Image


Look closely at these two graphs. The graph on the left for retail assumes that people are emitting HUGE amounts of CO2 when they got shopping. Look at that huge blob of CO2 supposedly emitted by "customer travel."

Sorry, but that isn't necessarily so. When I lived in Europe I simply went downstairs and walked a block to the neighborhood market for my food. I had zero CO2 emissions when I went shopping, and so did just about everybody else in that city. If I wanted to shop in another part of town I took mass transit to get there. I had minimal CO2 emissions. The same thing holds in NYC, Boston, and most urban settings.

You don't have huge CO2 emissions when you can walk or bike or take mass transit to the grocery store, as is the norm for millions of people in cities today.

I suspect the study you are referring too was done to promote online shopping and is presenting a biased view of how much carbon is released through retail shopping. Clearly that graph doesn't necessarily reflect modern urban reality, i.e. people in modern urban settings rely on mass transit or even walk to stores from their condos and apartments produce minimal to zero CO2 emissions the they go shopping.

CHEERS!
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby GHung » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 16:47:31

You ignore that most city folks in the US are basically suburban. Take Atlanta, which has a population of around half a million while including the surrounding metroplex is around 6 million. I can guarantee that very few of those 5/6 in the metroplex area walk much to shop. And i would submit that is representative of most of the population centers in the US (Dallas, Houston, LA, Seattle ...... on and on).
But if you are so sure, why haven't you moved to an inner city area?
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 15 Jul 2019, 20:20:00

Plantagenet wrote:Look closely at these two graphs. The graph on the left for retail assumes that people are emitting HUGE amounts of CO2 when they got shopping. Look at that huge blob of CO2 supposedly emitted by "customer travel."

Sorry, but that isn't necessarily so. When I lived in Europe I simply went downstairs and walked a block to the neighborhood market for my food. I had zero CO2 emissions when I went shopping, and so did just about everybody else in that city. If I wanted to shop in another part of town I took mass transit to get there. I had minimal CO2 emissions. The same thing holds in NYC, Boston, and most urban settings.

You don't have huge CO2 emissions when you can walk or bike or take mass transit to the grocery store, as is the norm for millions of people in cities today.

I suspect the study you are referring too was done to promote online shopping and is presenting a biased view of how much carbon is released through retail shopping. Clearly that graph doesn't necessarily reflect modern urban reality, i.e. people in modern urban settings rely on mass transit or even walk to stores from their condos and apartments produce minimal to zero CO2 emissions the they go shopping.

CHEERS!
The point about the last mile of delivery(ie, you driving to the store) contributing a large portion of the co2 emissions was stressed over and over again in the studies. And the question is not what you do personally but what most people do. Sure some people might do the majority of their shopping by walking or biking to the store. However the average household drives their cars nearly 5,000 miles per year for shopping. So the facts do not support the picture you are trying to paint of retail shopping having lower emissions.

HOUSEHOLD TRAVEL
Annual personal miles traveled per household for shopping: 4,620 miles
average personal trip length when shopping: 6.5 miles
SUMMARY OF TRAVEL TRENDS
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby tire » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:17:11

kublikhan wrote: And the question is not what you do personally but what most people do.


Most people are smart enough to combine errands.
E.g. Drive to work, on the way back home, get groceries.
Or go and buy new socks? That's next to home depot, let me go and pick up a can of paint at the same time.

CO2 footprint only looks better for home delivery if you assume people drive the last mile for every item purchased separately. Which is not likely.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby asg70 » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:35:04

Plantagenet wrote:When I lived in Europe


Why aren't you still there?

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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby tire » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:37:19

asg70 wrote:
Plantagenet wrote:When I lived in Europe


Why aren't you still there?


I would guess he likes Alaska better. What's your guess?
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby asg70 » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:41:51

tire wrote:I would guess he likes Alaska better. What's your guess?


He's never disclosed his career but I would guess it's somehow not far removed from the oil industry up there, which would be why he's such a fan of psychological projection. Sort of like a closeted harp-seal clubber who belongs to Greenpeace.

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-Short welched on a bet and should be shunned.
-Frequent-flyers should not cry crocodile-tears over climate-change.
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby tire » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:46:18

asg70 wrote:
tire wrote:I would guess he likes Alaska better. What's your guess?


He's never disclosed his career but I would guess it's somehow not far removed from the oil industry up there, which would be why he's such a fan of psychological projection. Sort of like a closeted harp-seal clubber who belongs to Greenpeace.


You think? He claims to make frequent trips to Antarctica. And he claims to have ties to universities. It looks to me to be related to climate change research. But of course on the internet you can be whatever you ever wanted to be. :-)
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Re: Internet users are killing the planet

Unread postby asg70 » Tue 16 Jul 2019, 11:55:53

tire wrote:It looks to me to be related to climate change research.


Not all of his trips are for business, like the one he took to Cuba. I don't see how someone who bashes democrats so much can be a genuine environmentalist. There should be a DSM designation for his special brand of mental disorder.

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-Short welched on a bet and should be shunned.
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