We have learned to use terms like ‘wireless’ and ‘the cloud’ to make everyday technology seem like it is a weightless formation storing our data. But all our data is collected, processed, exchanged and stored in enormous data centres all around the world.
These data centres need electricity 24/7 to power the servers and prevent them from overheating. Sadly, the majority of them are still powered by burning fossil fuels and thus contributing to the climate emergency.
There are over 2 million cables in the ocean, connecting data centres on one continent to the other. That’s enough cables to go to the Moon and back 3 times! Source: Connected: Cloud episode on Netflix
The problem is that the more greenhouse gas emissions we add to the atmosphere, the warmer and more chaotic the ocean will get, which on top of all the other impacts may put the undersea cables and the cloud in danger. When we think of the destructive causes that contribute to climate change, sitting behind a desk sending emails all day probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But with the colossal number of data centres and the ever-increasing number of internet-connected devices, the digital world is now beginning to be harmful to the planet. While one person’s digital carbon footprint may be quite small, the collective amount of the world’s digital usage is monstrous – and increasingly worrying.
Collectively, the digital world accounts for approximately 3% of the global greenhouse emissions. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the global aviation industry.
Having a clear understanding of our digital carbon footprint can help us avoid wasting energy and, therefore, wasting money as well.
Here’s a list of easy actions:
- Share large files via the cloud instead of attaching to emails
- Turn down screen brightness or use ‘dark mode’ on devices
- Switch to a green email provider and search engine
- Unsubscribe from marketing emails and newsletters
- Switch off and unplug devices every evening
- Use wi-fi instead of mobile data for downloads
- Turn off video autoplay in social media and apps
Remember, if you need any extra help or advice, check in with the Ailuna Community page in the app to connect with our team, and others who are taking the dare.
Together, we can make the digital space greener!