An Internet Carbon Footprint, and Poor Carbon Coverage

    The carbon emissions of the internet is a topic too rarely mentioned. When it is, it’s a matter of ‘moral‘ business practices because data centers are such a closed off space of intense (but vital) power consumption. There’s no ‘certified organic’-like label for websites. Would it look like this?

 green grid button

Don Carli, a research fellow at ISC (institute for sustainable communications) was recently interviewed by David Needle here:

"It is wrong headed to assume that the use of digital media is without environmental impact…In addition to problems withe-waste disposal, much of the energy used to power and cool data centers and ISPs comes from coal-fired power plants. Keeping a megabyte of data alive on the grid and moving it from server to server means that somewhere puffs of CO2 are being released into the atmosphere to make it possible.

    It reminds me… I once read how many billions of tons of CO2 we could save if more web sites used black backgrounds. These are just things we don’t think about. But we should. It could be an easy Firefox Add-on. This site is white and guilty.

aiso's solar grid
Aiso’s Grid (live)

But of course there are solar powered hosts like, and less power-hungry hard drives, servers, and processors.
On the topic of carbon footprints, eco snobs find they attract much more attention when they jab Madonna and Bono for their carbon emissions during their ecological crusades. Oh wow. What great coverage. Who left the irony on…
Madonna’s carbon footprint equates to the equivalent of about 160 britons,according to this article. But it would be easy to fix:

Madonna’s total footprint for the last 12 months was estimated at 1,017 tonnes. It would cost her around £6,000 to offset this output.

    But if she did (and she does), servers would also have to power the servers that publish that crappy news article. Lucky for us, newspapers don’t sell because Madonna plants trees in Mozambique to offset her carbon emissions, or because the Live Earth site is powered by solar power.  If performers like Madonna and whatzisname at Live Earth can get people to reduce their emissions by just 1%, it pays ten million fold for the74,000 tons of carbon the event and the performers globe trotting artists produce: combined, the artists fly 222,000 miles to just arrive. For a lengthy eco-crazy critique of this ordeal, visit the Daily, I mean the Daily mail.
If this kind of stuff excites you, get involved with the folks over at Here’s some whitepapers to get started.

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