Image: Edited screenshot of a recent Zoom session for the WI course on Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith, showing two faculty members (Whitney White Kazemipour and Roger Neyman)
by Christine Muller
An online meeting or conference is certainly less polluting than attending in person by flying or driving a car. However, the environmental impact of internet use is significant. The internet data-centers require an enormous amount of electricity for storage and transmission as well as an exorbitant amount of water for cooling. So what can we do? Here are a few suggestions.
This 2021 paper on the “The overlooked environmental footprint of increasing Internet use” shows that “if you turn your camera off during a videoconference, you can reduce your environmental footprint in that meeting by 96 percent.”
You can also set your computer to standard definition rather than high definition. The reduction of streaming quality reduces the environmental impact about 20 times!
You can also unsubscribe from junk emails and reduce cloud storage.
For more information, see How to reduce the environmental impact of your next virtual meeting, by Kelly Travers, MIT Energy Initiative.
With many thanks to one of our students for drawing our attention to this important issue and for sharing the above article!