Your Netflix Habit Is Polluting The World? 30 Mins Netflix Same As Driving 6-Kms? (Truth Revealed)
Netflix has used a tool called DIMPACT which it used to conclude that one hour of OTT (Over The Top) streaming produced less than 100gCO2e (a hundred grams of carbon dioxide equivalent).
This is comparable to driving a regular car a quarter of a mile.
The tool in question is basically a calculator used by digital media firms to assess their carbon footprints.
Digital Impact on Physical Environment
The environmental impact of digital streaming services has long been an underfed topic given the lack of accurate data.
Misinformation about the topic leads to ignorance of the scale of energy consumption of internet data centers and their environmental footprints.
30 Minutes of Netflix = Driving 6 km?
The sensational piece of data that came out of The Shift Project (a French thinktank on environmental concerns) claims that 30 minutes of streaming Netflix is equivalent to driving 4 miles in terms of carbon emissions.
However this figure has been the subject of debate with no conclusive evidence.
Some say that the figure is an exaggeration and that the actual amount could be 90 times lower than the original.
How to Rectify the Situation: The Companies
Researchers have pushed for transparency by streaming companies and internet service providers which should come clean about the scale of their environmental impact.
This would benefit the consumer who can factor in environmental costs in their purchase decisions.
How to Rectify the Situation: The Consumers
Internet users have been implored to switch to standard definition from HD and switching off first-person video view in online meetings.
The potential impact is enormous. If 70 million Netflix subscribers were to stream in lower definition, 3.5 million tons of carbon emissions each month can be avoided.
This is comparable to 6% of the US total coal expenditure a month.
Switching video quality also contributes to a reduction in personal footprint i.e. carbon, water and land by 84%.
Different Kinds of Footprints
We know the main concept of carbon footprint but water and land footprints are also important metrics to consider.
Carbon footprint refers to heavy reliance of an economy on fossil fuels
Water footprint in simple terms is the measure of dependence of an economy on hydroelectricity eg. hydroelectricity is the major contributor to power consumption in Brazil at 70%
Netflix vs Other Tech Companies
Netflix is lagging behind in terms of publicly vowing to significantly reduce carbon emissions. There has been no announcement towards any plans to go green.
- On the other hand, Microsoft committed to go carbon negative by 2030
- Apple followed suit when it announced intentions to go carbon neutral also by 2030
- Facebook also pledged to achieve net-zero emissions
- Google expressed their intentions to run on exclusively renewable energy.
Bernardi Pranggono at Sheffield Hallam University, senior lecturer, says that on any given day walking for 30 minutes is more forgiving on the environment as opposed to spending the same amount of time on Netflix or driving.