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The impact of the internet and cloud services on the climate

The internet and cloud services have revolutionized the way we communicate, share information and do business. But while we benefit from the advantages of these technologies, it is also important to consider the impact on our environment. In this article, we take a look at the different aspects of the internet and cloud services and how they affect the climate.

Energy consumption and CO2 emissions

The Internet is an energy consumer. Data centers, which form the basis for the functioning of the Internet and the cloud, require enormous amounts of energy to cool servers and handle data traffic. According to estimates, data centers are responsible for around 1% of global electricity consumption worldwide, and the trend is rising. This leads to a corresponding increase in CO2 emissions.

A 2017 study by Greenpeace found that data centers and the network that connects them consume as much electricity worldwide as the country of Japan. These huge amounts of energy are mainly generated by burning fossil fuels, which leads to considerable CO2 emissions and thus contributes to climate change.

The challenge of cooling

Another important factor is the cooling of the servers. As they are constantly working, servers generate large amounts of heat that need to be dissipated to prevent overheating and breakdowns. This requires the use of air conditioning and other cooling systems, which in turn consume a lot of energy.

Cloud computing and virtualization

Cloud computing and virtualization are two technologies that have been developed to use resources more efficiently. By consolidating servers and sharing resources, companies can optimize their IT infrastructure and reduce energy consumption. However, the growth of cloud computing is also leading to higher energy requirements overall.

Renewable energies and sustainability

In order to reduce the negative impact on the climate, many technology companies are increasingly focusing on renewable energies. Google, for example, has set itself the goal of working exclusively with renewable energies by 2030. Other companies such as Amazon and Microsoft have announced similar targets and are investing heavily in renewable energies.

Efficiency gains and innovations

In addition to the use of renewable energies, companies are also focusing on improving the energy efficiency of their data centers. Advances in cooling technology, optimized hardware and software as well as more efficient data transfer protocols help to reduce energy consumption per calculation unit.

The role of the user

Users of the internet and cloud services can also contribute to reducing the ecological footprint. They can reduce energy consumption by consciously using digital resources, such as deleting unused files or using energy-efficient devices.

The internet and cloud services undoubtedly have numerous benefits for our society, but they also have a significant impact on the climate. Rising energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions are a challenge that the technology industry must face up to. However, by increasing the use of renewable energy, improving efficiency and raising awareness among users, we can help to reduce the environmental footprint of these technologies and create a more sustainable future.

Sources:

1 Greenpeace – “Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet?” – https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/reports/click-clean/

2 Google – “Sustainability at Google” – https://sustainability.google/

3. Amazon – “Amazon Announces 26 New Utility-Scale Wind and Solar Energy Projects” – https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/sustainability/amazon-announces-26-new-utility-scale-wind-and-solar-energy-projects

4. Microsoft – “Microsoft announces new commitments to reduce and ultimately remove its carbon footprint” – https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/01/16/microsoft-will-be-carbon-negative-by-2030/

5 The Shift Project – “Lean ICT: Towards Digital Sobriety” – https://theshiftproject.org/en/lean-ict-towards-digital-sobriety-2/

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