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Reduce the Environmental Impact of Internet Use

Sep 28, 2021
screenshot of WI class meeting with student images redacted

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!


Christine Muller, Teacher of Music and the Environment

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 also teach a course on climate change for the Environmental Sciences Department of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. I have served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for more than a decade. In recent years, much of my time is spent serving the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum ( as its secretary.  My formal academic background is in music, and I enjoy part-time piano teaching, playing and - when there is time - composing music. A recent composition is Humans on Earth – a Ballad of Our Time for two singers, string orchestra, piano, and percussion. Its lyrics include quotations from scientific sources and the Bahá’í Writings. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio


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