A Carbon Neutral Internet

Earth’s CO2 concentrations have hit their highest levels in 3 million years. In the same period, the internet reached 4.4 billion active users.

A recent Nature article estimates that the internet produces 2% of global emissions, putting it on par with the aviation industry.

Contributing to the internet’s growth are nearly 28 billion connected devices. Their internet connectivity is very power hungry, especially for streaming services. Furthermore, these connected devices average a lifespan of a mere 20 months, as in the case of smartphones, adding to e-waste and creating demand for more mining and manufacturing.

Over the last decades, the open movement has been instrumental in getting people on the internet through affordable devices and building the open source code, open standards, and open products that serve an open internet and digital commons accessible to all.

That vision is powerful and necessary. I am proud of it and have dedicated my professional life to it.

However, today we have new responsibilities. The open movement must address the environmental impact of the inclusive, digital future it champions. The internet must reduce its carbon footprint. Our 21st century dreams cannot be powered by 19th century coal.

I believe the time is ripe, politically and technologically, for open activists to join in the climate fight. We have a lot to give and a lot to learn.

I want to learn more about how we can make the internet carbon neutral. Research and project ideas will be collected on a Github respository and elsewhere on the web. I warmly welcome your recommendations and collaboration!

Image by Anderson Aguirre, public domain via Unsplash

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