Global computer usage has more ’emissions’ than aviation industry, say researchers

Posted: September 11, 2021 by oldbrew in climate, Emissions, Energy, research
Tags: ,
metofficecomputer

Weather forecasting technology

Climate obsessives drone on about such things endlessly, and pointlessly. Attacking all aspects of modern technological life on the basis of an irrational fear of trace gases leads nowhere good. Time for a complete re-think.
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Global computer usage produces twice the greenhouse gases as the aviation industry, new analysis suggests.

Figures from Lancaster University reveal emissions from computing account for almost four per cent of all greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere, compared to two per cent for air travel, says the Telegraph.

Previous studies had claimed that computing’s share of global emissions was between 1.8 and 2.8 per cent, however the researchers of the new paper say this was an underestimate.

In their review, they combed through three studies, interviewed the authors and also spoke to experts, and developed a more complete, robust view of the entire information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

The study includes the lifecycle emissions of various devices, including phones, laptops, cameras, smart watches, headphones, games consoles and speakers. It also looked at the carbon footprint of data centres, local networks and television.

Previous estimates did not account for how much energy was required to make computers, the researchers say, as well as failing to account for the carbon footprint of the manufacturers’ supply chains, energy consumption while using the product, and the environmental costs of disposing of computers.

It has been said previously that the technological advances made possible by computing will outweigh the industry’s direct emissions, but the researchers claim this is false.

Continued here [paywall].

Lancaster University review: The real climate and transformative impact of ICT: A critique of estimates, trends, and regulations

Alternative article: Global computing’s carbon footprint is bigger than previously estimated (UPI Science News)

Comments
  1. Jamie Spry says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Will Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter et al., be renouncing their carbon (CO2) ‘sins’ at UN COP26 in Glasgow?

    Nahh, didn’t think so.

    And so, the hypocrisy train rolls on. Choo-choo!

  2. Gamecock says:

    I tend to disregard anyone who says ‘spewed.’

  3. oldbrew says:

    emissions from computing account for almost four per cent of all greenhouse gases

    Taking that to mean 4% of *human-caused* radiative gas (mostly CO2), it’s only a tiny proportion of total radiative gas once the main one, water vapour, is included.

  4. jb says:

    Who would have thunk…

    Computer use at our place runs about 15% of the electric utility every month.

    My neighbor runs his pool pump 24/7. His bill has to be double mine, and mine is higher than usual what with power tools and other high tech devices being cycled.

  5. Curious George says:

    How much of this is bitcoin related?

  6. Saighdear says:

    How much of this is Social Media activity?

  7. oldbrew says:

    CG – quoting from a link in the Telegraph article:

    “If you are using Bitcoin you do not see the environmental cost,” says Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist which tracks Bitcoin emissions. “There are 319kg of carbon emissions per transaction, equivalent to watching over 50,000 hours of YouTube or 700,000 Visa transactions. It is an insane amount.”

    The present article says Bitcoin is ‘responsible for an ever-increasing percentage of global emissions’.

    Access to all forms of energy will be squeezed harder and harder going forward, if climate alarmism is adopted universally by governments.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Re interconnectors:

    The large risks were also made clear as Ireland blocked power exports to Britain via the Moyle interconnector that links Northern Ireland and Scotland. It followed warnings of generation shortfalls in the Irish market, where it is believed the rise of power-hungry data centres are putting extra strain on the grid. [bold added]

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/11/power-struggle-europe-uk-grid-struggles-keep-lights/

  9. Gamecock says:

    But . . . but . . . Apple has been claiming, to great public acclaim, that it uses 100% renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind for many of its power needs, including its data centers.

    Does this mean Apple is lying?

    (Spoiler alert: Yeah, they are lying like the press will never double check them and will get clean away with it.)

  10. Phoenix44 says:

    “they combed through three studies, interviewed the authors and also spoke to experts”

    Is that really supposed to be science? It sounds like a sixth form general studies project.

  11. Angusmac says:

    What amount of CO2 is generated by running climate models on supercomputers 24/7/365?

  12. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Good job computer use fertilises the planet. 😇

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