How to Handle Digital Data to Reduce Global Warming (Part I)

Updated: Sep 10, 2020




How to Handle Digital Data to Reduce Global Warming (PART I)

“The Unspoken Truth of Climate Crisis” seminar organized by KBO Earth at the Thai Army Club on June, 2019 has revealed that digital data and internet usage are the accelerating factors of global warming by three main reasons.Firstly, the source of electricity feeding digital data and internet come from fossil fuels. And the burning of fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emission. The amount of digital data and internet has played a part in accelerating global warming as the transmission of every bytes of data will use basic infrastructures—data center and network—and electronic devices which consume high volume of electricity. Therefore, the demand for electricity usage is up to 55% of total global electricity consumption per year and data traffic has grown more than 25% per year.Secondly, heat generated from electronic devices that we use is eventually absorbed into the atmosphere and the surrounding area. It is obvious why data centers need to stay in cool temperature or why digital service providers has built their data centers in the North Pole region or even under the ocean.Lastly, microwave which is used to transmit digital data wirelessly causes a polluted impact to the earth as well.As the usage of digital data that accelerates the global warming, this article will explain how we can heal the climate crisis by managing digital data effectively.From the previous article “Does streaming video accelerate global warming?”, a research from The Shift Project reveals that video represents 80% of global digital data flows in 2018. It means that only 20% of other digital data consists of uses as websites and other data. Therefore, the excessive use of digital technology mainly from digitalized video. Higher quality of video, for instance, “8K” inevitably consumes higher electricity (while it is still in discussion of its necessity whether lower quality video is sufficient enough).Interestingly, among all kind of streaming video, we found that they consist of 34% of VoD (Video On Demand), 27% of pornography, 21% of Tubes, and 18% for others, respectively. Therefore, it leads to a challenging question whether it is worth using such streaming videos that consume limited fossil fuels and create greenhouse gas emission. So how can we reduce streaming video usage (or even stop using it) for a sustainable use of digital technology for the true benefit of mankind?A principle suggested from The Shift Project to help deal with this problem is “Digital Sobriety” adoption, which requires discipline and regulation for appropriate use of digital technology in the settings of limited natural resources and to reduce environmental impact. The principle tool to be use is a design for program that is in line with the sustainable usage of digital data.This is not the end of this story, let’s find more simple ways in managing digital data in Part II. To be continued… How to Handle Digital Data to Reduce Global Warming (PART I)“The Unspoken Truth of Climate Crisis” seminar organized by KBO Earth at the Thai Army Club on June, 2019 has revealed that digital data and internet usage are the accelerating factors of global warming by three main reasons.Firstly, the source of electricity feeding digital data and internet come from fossil fuels. And the burning of fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emission. The amount of digital data and internet has played a part in accelerating global warming as the transmission of every bytes of data will use basic infrastructures—data center and network—and electronic devices which consume high volume of electricity. Therefore, the demand for electricity usage is up to 55% of total global electricity consumption per year and data traffic has grown more than 25% per year.Secondly, heat generated from electronic devices that we use is eventually absorbed into the atmosphere and the surrounding area. It is obvious why data centers need to stay in cool temperature or why digital service providers has built their data centers in the North Pole region or even under the ocean.Lastly, microwave which is used to transmit digital data wirelessly causes a polluted impact to the earth as well.As the usage of digital data that accelerates the global warming, this article will explain how we can heal the climate crisis by managing digital data effectively.From the previous article “Does streaming video accelerate global warming?”, a research from The Shift Project reveals that video represents 80% of global digital data flows in 2018. It means that only 20% of other digital data consists of uses as websites and other data. Therefore, the excessive use of digital technology mainly from digitalized video. Higher quality of video, for instance, “8K” inevitably consumes higher electricity (while it is still in discussion of its necessity whether lower quality video is sufficient enough).Interestingly, among all kind of streaming video, we found that they consist of 34% of VoD (Video On Demand), 27% of pornography, 21% of Tubes, and 18% for others, respectively. Therefore, it leads to a challenging question whether it is worth using such streaming videos that consume limited fossil fuels and create greenhouse gas emission. So how can we reduce streaming video usage (or even stop using it) for a sustainable use of digital technology for the true benefit of mankind?A principle suggested from The Shift Project to help deal with this problem is “Digital Sobriety” adoption, which requires discipline and regulation for appropriate use of digital technology in the settings of limited natural resources and to reduce environmental impact. The principle tool to be use is a design for program that is in line with the sustainable usage of digital data.This is not the end of this story, let’s find more simple ways in managing digital data in Part II. To be continued…


Mr. Peerapong (Writer)


A computer scientist and former Business IT and managing data platform expert for Board of Director in multinational oil company for more than 20 years. He is interested in MI, BI, Big Data, Science, Technology, Environmental issue and Philosophy.

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