Greening YouTube

YouTube viewers who watch around 1 billion hours of videos per day generate around as much carbon dioxide as the city of Glasgow.

University of Bristol scientists said that YouTube could reduce those emissions by not uploading images to users who are only listening to music on the streaming service, cutting about as much carbon as 30,000 homes in the United Kingdom generate.

The researchers listed that and other methods of curbing the digital waste that consumes energy and in turn produces greenhouse gases.

“Digital services are an everyday part of our lives,” said University of Bristol Sustainability Professor Chris Preist in a press release. “But they require significant energy to deliver globally – not only in data centers, but also in networks, mobile networks and end devices – and so overall can have a big carbon footprint.”

Preist published his study in the Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

The researchers noted that companies compile carbon emissions, like how transportation costs affect their carbon imprint, but rarely compile date on emissions stemming from digital services on the web or telecommunications networks.

“People are aware of the significant amount of energy use of data centres and corporations are increasingly aware of the need to change their practices in light of the challenges that climate change present to humanity and the global ecosystem,” said Preist.

“But for a streaming service such as YouTube, most of the energy is used in the network, particularly the mobile network. Given the overall size of the carbon footprint of such services, it is important that companies assess and report them.”

Image credit: Christian Wiediger via Unsplash

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