Models Show That Internet Produces Vast Amount Of Greenhouse Gas
January 3, 2013

Models Show That Internet Produces Vast Amounts Of Greenhouse Gas

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Not only does the Internet produce a vast amount of information, but also an equally vast amount of greenhouse gas. Now, researchers are busy working up new models of emissions and energy consumption that could help reduce the carbon footprint of the web. A report of this work is published in Environmental Science & Technology, the journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Researchers from the Center for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell Labs explain that industry behind the Internet, Information Communications and Technology (ICT), produces more than 830 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. While that only accounts for 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, it is equivalent to the emissions produced by the aviation industry.

However, experts are forecasting the ICT industry to double CO2 output by 2020. So controlling these emissions now is important. And that´s where CEET and Bell Labs come in. Producing accurate yet feasible models need to take into account the data traffic, energy use and CO2 production in networks and other elements of the ICT industry. The existing models are inaccurate, say the researchers.

The team says their models better estimate the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of ICT services. They tested their models on a simulated network and on a deployed network that serves the majority of schools in California. They describe that both models deliver better estimates than the current “top-down” models.

CEET and Bell Labs suggest, based on the new models, that more efficient power usage of facilities, more efficient use of energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy resources are the keys to reducing ICT greenhouse gas emissions.

If measures are not taken now to combat CO2 production from the Internet, it will only be twice as difficult in 2020, when ICT emissions of CO2 are projected to surpass 1.6 billion tons.