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Is the Internet Bad for the Environment?

10.10.13
Aaron Walker

Many of us access the Internet on a daily basis, but do we really know what effect the Internet has on our environment?

With so many of us accessing the Internet without a care in the world, we very rarely stop to ask what effect the Internet has on our environment. Of course, the term “Internet” is extremely broad and when talking about effects on the environment, it needs to be refined.data centers and the environment

The Internet itself isn’t bad for the environment but, data centers that deliver or e-mail or help you find a new album on iTunes can affect the environment. Is this the case for all data centers though?

No, as there are green data centers have little to no impact on the environment. When you click a few buttons to order something off of Amazon, do you ever think about what happens all around the world?

We might not be able to see the effects of the Internet on the world but, they’re very real and depending on what it is they can have a very negative impact on the environment. Looking forward however, the Internet could drastically reduce its carbon footprint as it moves to the cloud and companies adjust how they store their vast quantities of data. Let’s take a look at some of the things that could impact the environment and how they might change for the better, going forward.

Large and Inefficient Data Centers

Data Centers are essential for a lot of what we take for granted on the Internet; for instance, our e-mails and cloud storage. However, not all data centers are the same. You could essentially think of these centers as hall after hall of super-large servers that you’d need a load cell to accurately weigh them. These incredibly heavy servers take up not only a lot of space but, they also use a whole lot of energy. The need masses of power to keep running and they’re kept running all the time. An inefficient data center can lead to wasted energy and a needlessly large carbon footprint.

Large Business with Poor Power Management

Let’s face it; we can’t really get any work done without getting online anymore, can we? Well, all of those machines accessing the Internet all over the globe for business purposes add up. That part of the Internet certainly isn’t good for the environment. Bulky and old computer workstations require more servers and all of this adds up to a bigger carbon footprint.

With newer, low-power PCs and slim line servers, online businesses could drastically reduce their carbon footprint and be a little kinder to the environment.

The Cloud is The Answer

How many times have you heard that the Cloud is going to revolutionize things? Well, it’s already hard at work. As Google has pointed out, the Cloud could be one of the biggest factors to reducing the Internet’s carbon footprint. Changing to the Cloud for office services and government services could use up to 87% less energy and therefore, have less impact on mother Earth. Google knows how to build clean and green data centers. These are the pillars of the Cloud movement and thanks to services like Drive and Gmail, business users can get work done without negatively effecting the environment.

Moving to the Cloud is going to be difficult for many industries, but it’s the answer both from a financial standpoint as well as an environment one. Once businesses move to the cloud, they soon reap the benefits.

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