The World's Digital Carbon Footprint


Are you aware that you are indirectly responsible for damaging the environment each time you send an email, each time you post a tweet, or each time you decide to watch an episode on Netflix? 

What is a digital carbon footprint?

The transmission of data via the internet can be very polluting, contributing to 4% of our greenhouse gas emissions. This is because it is a process that requires millions of physical servers in data centres around the world, all taking a lot of energy to run. Unfortunately, much of that energy comes from power sources that emit carbon dioxide into the air.

So every time we use the internet or social media, a small amount of carbon is being emitted. While one single person’s usage only generates a small amount of carbon dioxide, the collective amount of carbon emissions of the world’s digital usage is monstrous - and worrying. 

Why is it a problem?

Companies have coined terms like ‘the cloud’ to make everyday technology seem like it is simply a weightless formation storing our data. This allows us to easily ignore the material consequences and be guilt free when using the internet.

With technology becoming more and more intertwined with our daily lives, we wanted to generate awareness on how our digital lives can affect the planet.

Although terms like ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘carbon emissions’ are frequently being used, there is a lack of understanding as to what these numbers actually mean. We’ve created an animation that compares the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to something we all know is really bad - burning coal. In just a minute, 150,000,000 emails are being sent, releasing a staggering 600,000 kg of carbon dioxide. That is almost as if we are burning 232,258 kg every 60 seconds.