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Friday
Jan222010

Your online personality has a carbon footprint too!

The other day I heard read my friend ask, "When will companies stop calling themselves a 'virtual company'? When will 'virtual' be normal and 'officed' not?". Then literally as I'm writing this post, I come across this article entitled, "Virtual Worlds Await: Sign up, Choose Your Avatar, Start New Life". [pause] The movie Avatar has inspired the “where no one has gone before” aspect of social networking. Under the interactive concept, you create an avatar (character) that doubles as you in the on-line world. Now if you know me, you know how passionate I can be about social media, but this "second life" stuff CREEPS ME OUT.

Then something clicked. As more and more people are moving their social lives to the web, businesses are obviously following. So if both people and businesses are now "living on the web", what does that do for pollution and climate change? Gotta be good right? Wrong. Did you know web hosting is estimated to be as polluting as the airline industry in year 2020? Me neither. Amenworld’s Olivier Djidjelli said, “Like other industries, the hosting industry has a role in the global effort to reduce levels of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere".

Very few people realize the true impact the web hosting industry has on the environment. The average server produces the same emissions as a 15 mpg SUV, let alone the data center where the server is located, which consumes on average as much electricity as 30,000 households. The average website is hosted on a server which produces around 12 1/2 Tons of CO2 each year. That is a huge amount of CO2! Each year your PC produces half a ton, your car produces 5 Tons, and your home produces 6 1/2 Tons. This means on average each person is responsible for 12 Tons of the CO2 that is produced each year. About the same as each web server. SO how many web servers are out there? Well I don't know the exact number, but for starters, some have said that Google alone has upwards in the range of 500,000 servers over at least 25 locations around the world. Please correct me in the comments if you can find a source for this.

Fortunately, many web hosting companies have started to offer their clients green hosting options. So what have we done? Well, Pizza Fusion doesn't have wind turbines or wave power generators in their offices, but they have decided to go green by choosing to have PizzaFusion.com and Blog.PizzaFusion.com hosted on green servers by a company with green values (and off-setting the rest).

While energy efficient servers only produce 20% less CO2 than the average server, green web hosts have a number of options including using natural energy sources, generating their own renewable energy, using energy efficient hardware, operating an eco-friendly office, purchasing energy credits to offset their use of dirty power, or even planting a tree for every new client (website). All of these things aim to neutralize the web's affects on the environment.

As our social lives, personal lives, and business lives move to the internet, the metaphor of cloud computing is being given all new meaning. If the future is 'in the clouds', please choose green clouds over black ones. To learn more about green web hosting, feel free to drop me a line. Thanks for reading.

Reader Comments (2)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pizza Fusion and MedienStiftung FMS, South Circle Media. South Circle Media said: I put some time into this one. Thoughts? RT @PizzaFusion Blog post: Your online personality has a carbon footprint too! http://su.pr/2vwRXx [...]

Social comments and analytics for this post...

This post was mentioned on Twitter by pizzafusion: New blog post: Your online personality has a carbon footprint too! http://bit.ly/5QJtC0...

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenteruberVU - social comments

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