Telecommuting's carbon footprint isn't so small - HotHardware
Telecommuting's carbon footprint isn't so small

Telecommuting's carbon footprint isn't so small

It's easy to sit at your desk at home, telecommuting and think how much you're saving the environment by not driving one of those fossil-fueled cars on the Interstate.

Today, New Scientist had this to say about that: Not so fast. Estimates quoted by the magazine were that it may take 152 billion (yes, with a B) kilowatt hours per year to power just the data centers that keep the Internet from turning off. That doesn't include the energy used by, say, your laptop and router and printer and everyone else's computers, routers and other peripherals.

All said and done, New Scientist said the Internet could be responsible for, perhaps, 2 percent of manmade carbon dioxide emissions. That's as much as the aviation industry. You know, jet planes.

A previous study by security-technology company, McAfee, and technology-research company, ICF International, stated that the 62 trillion (yes, with a T) spam e-mails sent last year helped contribute to the problem. Google also said a while back that a typical search generates .02 grams of carbon dioxide. According to New Scientist, that means 1,000 searches produce as much "as an average European car travelling 1 kilometre."

More people are going online all the time - from 2000 to 2008, world Internet use increased an enormous 342 percent. So that carbon footprint will only increase as well, though Google, for example, has been adding so-called "green" data centers to reduce its carbon footprint by using more energy-efficient means to cool its computers.

And, if telecommuting (instead of driving cars) and video conferencing (instead of flying to a location for a meeting) manage to reduce the carbon footprint from traditional fossil-fuel transportation, it could end up at the very worst a zero-sum game and at the very best, a lot less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
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The internet and almost everything else in the world uses electricity. Film at 11.

>> if telecommuting (instead of driving cars) and video conferencing (instead of flying to a location for a meeting) manage to reduce the carbon footprint from traditional fossil-fuel transportation, it could end up at the very worst a zero-sum game

How do you come to that conclussion? That would require that your job *not* use computers if you drove to work.

Drive in to work, use computers for 8 hours, drive home... vs. stay home and use computer for 8 hours. Which one has the smaller carbon footprint? It's not like they could power-down the internet if you drove in.

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I agree. Plus I wonder if they take into account all the people who drive 1hour+ to work? I personally drive about 30 minutes to work and it can take me up to 1 hour to get home if traffic is bad. Plus I drive a V8 mustang... that can't be helping the environment too much :-P lol

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The New Scientist article doesn't even mention telecommuting; it just discusses the impact of the internet on energy use. Everybody knows that the internet's main function is porn distribution, not telecommuting. Telecommuting probably ranks about 997 on the list of internet activities that consume energy.

The amount of power consumed by a worker at an office versus a worker at home is only equivalent if you leave off the energy consumed by commuting, both the direct cost, like fuel, and indirect, like road maintenance and congestion). And even then, I think a telecommuter probably consumes less energy.

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