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What are the environmental impacts of the web? Can we calculate it? How can we reach a more sustainable model?

The Impact Of The Web On Our Environment, With Eric Horesnyi

What are the environmental impacts of the web? Can we calculate it? How can we reach a more sustainable model?

CleanTechnica publishes some of The Beam interviews and opinion pieces every week. The Beam magazine takes a modern perspective on the energy transition, interviewing inspirational people from around the world that shape our sustainable energy future.

What are the environmental impacts of the web? Can we calculate it? How can we reach a more sustainable model? This week, Anne-Sophie Garrigou, journalist at The Beam, interviewed Eric Horesnyi to try to answer to those questions.

What are the environmental impacts of the web? Can we calculate it?

Let’s define the web as the group of equipment from end user devices (captors, mobiles, computers) to data-centers interconnected by the Internet. We can estimate it with a light version of ISO 1404x for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), considering the impact of building, running, and disposing of products. has actually evaluated its impact in terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, water and energy depletion. The end result is that the footprint of the web today is similar to that of 40 nuclear plants, and growing faster than any other industry.

Who is responsible for this?

The main component of the web footprint comes from end user devices. End users can, for example, decide to select devices that they know will last more than three years because they can change the battery or upgrade the memory. Developers always look for efficiency in coding. By selecting technologies that are efficient, they naturally contribute to minimizing the impact of the web. The more they know about the impact of the architecture they selected, the more efficient they will be and the better for the planet, hence our focus within the Green IT community on a common framework we can all communicate within.

How can we reach a more sustainable model?

Just being frugal in our use of technology, and careful about its impact on the environment. A sustainable model can be reached by optimizing our use of resources through sharing and reuse. The web is a powerful tool for sharing, and was actually built at CERN in Switzerland just for this: sharing information. If your app knows that the best transportation mode to your next destination is an autonomous car that is now programmed to come to your door in five minutes, why would you ever need your own car that will be resource-intensive to build? What is the use ratio of my car? What if we used our existing resources at 95% by sharing as much as possible, rather than wanting our own. What if each house could generate its base power and stock it? What Tesla is doing in this area is very promising.

Read the entire interview here.

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The Beam Magazine is an independent climate solutions and climate action magazine. It tells about the most exciting solutions, makes a concrete contribution to eliminating climate injustices and preserving this planet for all of us in its diversity and beauty. Our cross-country team of editors works with a network of 150 local journalists in 50 countries talking to change makers and communities. THE BEAM is published in Berlin and distributed in nearly 1,000 publicly accessible locations, to companies, organizations and individuals in 40 countries across the world powered by FairPlanet.


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