‘Dirty Data’: Online Image Posting and Email Storage Contribute to Climate Crisis, Report Says

‘Dirty Data’: Online Image Posting and Email Storage Contribute to Climate Crisis, Report Says

A picture can describe a thousand words, but it can also contribute to the climate crisis.

New survey challenges us for what it calls our ‘dirty data’ habits – storing millions of unnecessary photos and videos on servers around the world, creating a carbon footprint that researchers say is as large as that of the airline industry.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which commissioned the research, estimates that an average British adult takes almost 900 photos per year, with an average of five photos taken of each posted online.

Duplicate and unwanted images left in storage accumulate 10.6 kg of CO2 emissions per person per year, based on the energy used and the carbon footprint generated by storing the data, either personally or on data. shared servers.

What he calls “dirty data” also includes the streaming and downloading of unnecessary data, as well as the storage of emails and messages.

According to the report, the total CO2 generated in the UK from unnecessary stored data equates to 112,500 round-trip flights from London to Australia.

Individually, the carbon footprint that our unused data generates over a lifetime is equivalent to driving from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

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Chris Cartwright, chairman of the digital panel at IET, said: “So far, much of the noise about carbon emissions has been focused on the big contributors – aviation, transportation and the food industries. – or on costly and disruptive solutions such as solar energy. panels, micro-generation, energy storage using electric walls and heat pumps… But the story does not end there.

“In our increasingly connected lives, the data we now rely on so much also has a hidden carbon cost. Unsurprisingly, most of us don’t realize that our use of cloud storage means huge, power-hungry data centers are needed. “

The IET claims that the vast majority of existing data has been generated within the past two years; a trend, he says, shows no signs of slowing down.

To lead a “more sustainable online lifestyle”, he recommends: deleting unwanted emails and photos, limiting the use of the “reply all” function on emails, disabling autoplay on podcasts and digital streaming services; and zoom “video off” days.

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