Note — Sep 01, 2019

The Planet Needs a New Internet

Very good overview of the effects of the internet on climate collapse and vice versa. Rising waters and weather events are massive dangers for the net’s infrastructure, while our ever-increasing use of the network generates various externalities (CO2, excess heat), in turn increasing the heating of the planet. Unsurprisingly, here too Amazon and Facebook show some of the arsehole behaviours we expect from them.

On the one hand, rising sea levels threaten to swamp the cables and stations that transmit the web to our homes; rising temperatures could make it more costly to run the data centers handling ever-increasing web traffic; wildfires could burn it all down. On the other, all of those data centers, computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices take a prodigious amount of energy to build and to run, thus contributing to global warming and hastening our collective demise. […]

A report the Shift Project published in July found that digital technologies now accounts for 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—more than the entire aviation sector. And that footprint could double to 8 percent by 2025. […]

But the uncomfortable reality that it’s going to be hard to keep up in a world where we’re spending ever-increasing amounts of time watching videos and playing games online, browsing the web and scrolling our social media feeds (four activities that, together, make up nearly 90 percent of traffic downloaded from the web, according to a 2018 report by networking company Sandvine).