Are Your Internet Habits Killing the Planet?

Are Your Internet Habits Killing the Planet?

The internet is quickly becoming a major contributor to climate change. Here's how to understand the problem—and what can be done to fix it.
Are Your Internet Habits Killing the Planet?

Donate Now!

Your contribution will benefit Friends of the Earth.

Stay Informed

Thanks for your interest in Friends of the Earth. You can find information about us and get in touch the following ways:

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

by Arielle Samuelson, HEATED journalist
Originally posted on HEATED.

I asked Michael Khoo, climate disinformation program director at the nonprofit Friends of the Earth, and author of a recent report on artificial intelligence. And fortunately, he explained that the internet’s biggest climate problem is not individual internet users. It’s a tech industry committed to the endless expansion of its offerings—particularly artificial intelligence—while shrugging off responsibility for the consequences.

How much internet is too much?

The web isn’t entirely a climate villain. In some ways, it’s a climate hero. “There are a ton of great things that happen on the internet, including research on climate change and communications between scientists,” Khoo told me. The internet makes it possible to work remotely and commute less; to accurately predict natural disasters; to monitor water quality and deforestation via wireless sensors; and even to build the climate models used in the IPCC reports.

So unlike fossil fuels, the internet is not a product that needs to be phased out to preserve a livable climate. It’s just a product that needs to be used more wisely. Some uses of the internet, for example, pollute very little compared to others. A Google search emits about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide. Every minute spent on TikTok emits about 2.6 grams. Watching one hour of video emits about 36 grams.

But those activities are nothing compared to artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, which are largely responsible for the recent boom in emissions.

Related News