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Internet Carbon Footprint Spiralling Out Of Control, Threatens Google, Youtube

The rising use of internet is inflicting a severe drain on our energy resources and it threatens the future of internet giants like YouTube, industry experts claimed.

With around 1.5 billion internet users across the globe, experts estimated that carbon-footprints of the web are rising substantially by over 10 percent every year. The situation is even worsening with the internet firms finding it hard to manage costs in delivering internet content.

Subodh Bapat, VP at Sun Microsystems, has called for reining in the energy consumption and asserted that we simply couldn’t continue to grow the internet footprints at all.

He further notified that the network of data-centres and web servers is getting expensive every passing day, while the profits have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

“We need more data centres, we need more servers. Each server burns more watts than the previous generation and each watt costs more. If you compound all of these trends, you have the perfect storm”, he said.

One website that is thought to be reeling under enormous pressure is YouTube. Although ranked as the world’s third-biggest website, YouTube still needs a huge amount of subsidy from the parent company Google.

The growing concern over rising carbon emissions is exerting pressure on the tech industry to come up with more energy-efficient equipments, new data-centre designs, enhanced cooling methods, and substantial investments in renewable energy sources.

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Our Comments

The research only takes into account the power consumption of data centers and related infrastructure. What it fails to assess is the relative power savings that the internet brought in. For example, using Google maps saves fuel and sending emails rather than snail mail costs less and has a smaller CO2 footprint. Obviously, Sun Microsystems has a vested interest in the research paper since it sells power efficient hardware.

Related Links

Internet struggles to contain carbon footprint

(Telegraph)

Soaring internet usage 'is threatening future of Google and YouTube'

(Daily Mail)

Experts urge limited Internet consumption

(UPI.com)

Web providers must limit internet's carbon footprint, say experts

(Guardian)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.