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“If the world wishes to question the energy use of cryptocurrency data and mining, they also should be questioning the amount of energy and its sources used to support social media and similar industries.”
Is Bitcoin really the problem?
- Cryptocurrency has been in the spotlight lately for how much energy it consumes.
- But cryptomining – the process of verifying Bitcoin transactions – is something that many people can’t relate to since there are only about a million Bitcoin miners currently working.
- Compare that to the number of people who use the internet daily.
- CleanSpark (CLSK) is a Bitcoin mining company that uses microgrid technology that, reportedly, means that 95% of the electricity it produces qualifies as carbon-free
- The chief executive officer of CleanSpark, Zach Bradford, told TMS that “If the world wishes to question the energy use of cryptocurrency data and mining, they also should be questioning the amount of energy and its sources used to support social media and similar industries.”
Is using the internet bad for the planet?
- Many of us spend our days sending emails, listening to music, or just scrolling through our social media feeds.
- Each of these activities you perform online comes with a small cost – a few grams of carbon dioxide.
- Now, you may be thinking, “my computer definitely does not emit carbon dioxide,” but the data centers and servers needed to support the internet do.
- While a single email doesn’t leave that large of a footprint when compared to other carbon emitting activities, approximately 4.1 billion people, or 53.6% of the global population, now use the internet.
- But emails, Instagram likes and the greenhouse gases they emit can add up.
How much energy does this use?
- Research commissioned in November of 2019 by OVO Energy, the United Kingdom’s leading independent energy provider, revealed some crazy numbers around how much carbon is released from even a single email.
- There are over 64 million unnecessary emails sent every day in the UK alone and this is contributing 23,475 tons of carbon each year to the UK’s carbon footprint.
- OVO Energy says that if UK citizens each chose to send one less email per day, it would reduce the country’s carbon output by over 16,433 tons a year.
- This would be the same as taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.
What about everything else I do on the internet?
- Remember, this is just accounting for emails in the UK and doesn’t include using Google or watching YouTube videos.
- According to Google’s own figures in 2019, an average user of its services – someone who performs 25 searches each day, watches 60 minutes of YouTube, has a Gmail account and accesses some of its other services – produces approximately eight grams of carbon emissions a day.
- With millions of daily users, these eight grams per user can easily turn into millions of grams of carbon emissions.
- According to its 2019 report, Google is taking steps to lessen its carbon footprint.
What can I do about it?
- The reality is that there are steps we can all take to lessen our carbon footprint even if it means sending one less email.
- According to Katie Russell, OVO Energy’s Head of Data and Analytics, “we can fight the climate crisis together, making everyday changes that cut carbon – whilst making life better. We want to show people how every action has a carbon impact, even a simple email. We need to change our behaviour at every level, and help people make a start with the easy first steps.”
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