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Reduce the Environmental Impact of Internet Use

Sep 28, 2021

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!

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Christine Muller, Piano Teacher

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for nine years and currently serve on the board of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum (iefworld.org). My academic background is in music and I enjoy part-time piano teaching and playing music. I would have done more in the area of music were it not for the urgency of climate action, but my musical training has helped me to better understand the complexity of the climate crisis. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio

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