Instinctively it seems strange to think about pollution when it comes to websites. However close they have come over the years, the digital world and the real world still appear to us as two separate entities. It will be due to all science fiction cyberpunk which has somehow influenced our imagination, but the truth is that the connection is strong, even in a moment when the gaze is all on the elusive Metaverso. And it’s time to seriously start talking about environmental impact.
Pollution and websites, let’s start with the FAANG
You know the acronym FAANG? It is a way to indicate the five main giants of the tech market, based on their capitalization: in order Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix e Google. They were the focus of a research curated by AvantGrade.com, presented in these days in Milan. A survey aimed at finding out what these companies’ consumption is and what they are doing to contain it.
The disseminator and creator was present to introduce and moderate the meeting Rudy Bandierawho presented the two main speakers to the public: Ale AgostiniCEO of AvantGrade.com and Founder of the Karma Metrix project, e Roberto RazetoHead of International Affairs per IULM e Communication Strategist per Connect4Climate.
Their voices have guided us inanalysis of sustainability reports of the different companies. A way to understand more concretely what the impact of the digital world can be on the environment. And thus open the door to a new way to analyze website pollution.
How much do the tech companies actually pollute?
The analysis was based on sustainability reports relating to the last three years available to date. These are the data communicated by the companies themselves, sometimes in a non-detailed manner in its more specific aspects, which allow you to get an idea precisely of what is the environmental impact of the various companies.
Going to see the CO2 emitted, we immediately notice how the main contribution comes from the companies that operate more actively also in the ‘analog’ world. Amazon hit a peak of 60 million tons producedup almost 40% compared to 2018. But that doesn’t mean they are less impressive the 10 tons produced by Google in the same year or the 4 of Facebook.
Studying theenergy consumed from the different companies, the primacy of Amazonwhich is close to 25,000,000 MWh again in 2020. Second place for Google, followed by Facebook and Apple, all three growing in terms of consumption.
This trend is fortunately balanced by a ‘greater attention to sources from which we draw, which is why the environmental impact, however high it is, is decreasing. But this is not the solution. How has it effectively Rudy Bandiera summarized in his speech: “Should we buy glue to repair the vases? No, we must stop breaking the vessels! “.
Also because the data speak for themselves. The energy consumption of the FAANGs is higher than that of Peru and Portugal annually. And looking at the CO2 emitted, the numbers do not improve: the five companies are above the Czech Republic and just behind Qatar.
How do websites generate pollution?
There are three factors through which websites generate pollution:
- i data center and servers, increasingly important assets for the various companies
- their cooling systems
- i end devicesthat is, the consumption generated by our devices with which we consult the web pages, the impact of which should not be underestimated
Each of these three parameters contribute to the environmental impact of the digital world. And in a society that is increasingly hybrid, which is looking more and more at the technology in its future with the much talked about arrival of the Metaverso as the next trend, it would be good to start taking a serious look at how this affects the environment. In fact, we know very well how our planet is in crisis and that it is time to find a solution.
How do you counteract the pollution of websites?
In the light of all this, the project was born Karma Metrix, which tackles the problem starting from the basics. The first step to find a solution is understand the size of what needs to be resolved. Thus, this platform, thanks to a proprietary algorithm, allows you to calculate the environmental impact of a web page. If you are curious, you can do a free trial directly from the Karma Metrix website and get a precise idea of the pollution produced by your websites.
The next step is a ‘in-depth analysis that you study all the individual pages, in detail. From there you can proceed to one advice on how to reduce the overall impact of the site. This can go through relatively simple tricks, whether it’s the introduction of one dark mode or a revision of the code to make it more streamlined and reduce the need for computation. In the future, factors like these will also affect the success of a page (and Google is already taking steps to do so in its rankings).
Small steps, which many companies have already taken, for make your contribution in containing the ecological crisis. An issue that is absolutely topical and that we must commit ourselves to resolving, all together.