Online Porn Pumps Out As Much Carbon Dioxide As A Small Industrial Country

You might want to start thinking about more environmentally friendly methods of getting your rocks off. nikitabuida/Shutterstock

Our porn-viewing habits are leaving a filthy footprint on the planet.

Video streaming accounts for around 60 percent of all data flow online, which means it also accounts for over 300 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Since almost a third of streamed video content is pornography, online porn pumps out around 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, more than the annual output of Israel. 

These figures come from a new report by The Shift Project, a French think tank that aims to limit climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels. In light of their findings, they argue that our digital consumption should be considered when looking at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, just as driving gas-guzzling cars and eating loads of red meat are. They also call on policymakers and architects of the digital space to consider the impacts of online services when designing digital technologies. 

“Getting this impact under control requires a transition from digital intemperance to digital sobriety,” the report [PDF] reads. “This means prioritizing the allocation of resources as a function of uses, in order to conform to the planet’s physical boundaries, while preserving the most valuable societal contributions of digital technologies.”

Carbon emissions are produced by the electricity needed to power the production and consumption of digital equipment, including everything from data centers to your smartphone. This new report uses figures from Internet services about global video Internet traffic and its respective energy usage. Electricity consumption was then converted into greenhouse gas emissions. 

They concluded that online video viewing, which makes up 60 percent of the world’s data traffic, generated more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide during 2018. For context, that’s the same carbon footprint as the annual emissions of Spain.

Pornography makes up around 27 percent of the word’s streaming. Video-on-demand services, such as Netflix and Hulu, account for around 34 percent, while “tube” serves, like YouTube, equate to 21 percent. The remaining chunk was accounted for by Skype calls, “camgirls”, live video monitoring, and telemedicine. 

If you want to keep tabs on the “invisible” climate impact of your web browsing, you can download a browser extension for FireFox that visualizes the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that your Internet usage leads to.

Alternatively, you might want to start thinking about more environmentally friendly methods of getting your rocks off. 

[H/T: New Scientist]

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