How Much Energy Does the Internet Use? | Hot Mess 🌎


About half the world has internet access. That’s 3.6 billion people surfing the web. How much energy is that using? And what is our online world doing to our
planet’s climate? Hey Alexa, how much electricity do you use? “Hmm I’m not sure”
No worries, that’s what we’re here for. [OPEN] Hey! I’m Miriam, and we need to talk about your
internet habits. The internet is pretty great – this wouldn’t
be a thing without it. But getting this video and all the other bits
of the internet to you uses a lot of energy. What we call ‘the internet’ is made up
of a lot of things: wires traversing the oceans, satellites and cell-phone towers, massive
data centers sending packets of information all over, and devices. SO MANY DEVICES. Today, there’s more than 30 billion things
connected to the internet – that’s every cell phone, laptop, and tablet, but also every
credit card reader, creepy all-hearing speaker, newfangled fridge with a TV on the front,
and more things coming online every day. Every single one of these devices requires
electricity. Charging a single phone or a laptop doesn’t
use that much energy, but powering billions of internet-connected devices adds up. It’s hard to estimate exactly how much,
because things are changing too fast to even count, but in total, internet-connected devices
probably use in the neighborhood of 5% of the world’s electricity. Once you’ve got your internet portal charged
and ready to go, streaming a video or posting a pic on Instagram draws on power from data
centers distributed around the world. After devices, data centers are the internet’s
next biggest energy hog, using around 1 or 2% of the world’s total electricity. And most of this electricity comes from burning
fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But when compared to all the other things
that produce greenhouse gases, like transportation, which causes almost a quarter of global emissions,
the internet is doing alright – in total, it contributes only around 2% of global emissions. And, compared to the speed with which more
people are coming online worldwide, and the rapid growth of connected devices, energy
use by the internet has increased pretty slowly, because our hardware, software, and data centers
have become more energy efficient. But the internet does a whole lot more than
just use energy. I mean, it’s changed nearly every aspect
of life, and being able to communicate with each other so quickly lets us do lots of things
that are good for the climate. Manufacturers and warehouses can coordinate
better with stores to avoid unnecessary shipping and reduce waste. In fact, the internet helps us avoid producing
a lot of physical things in the first place, like CDs, DVDs, newspapers, snail mail, and
textbooks. Even when we make these as sustainably as
possible, they still create more emissions than their digital counterparts. And then there’s telecommuting [Miriam’s
face on computer], which cuts down on travel. And maps on our phones, which reduce how long
we spend driving around lost. The internet can even make itself more efficient;
using artificial intelligence, Google figured out how to better cool its data centers, which
ended up using 15% less electricity. So is the overall impact of the internet on
the climate good or bad? Maybe the real answer is it’s somewhere in
the middle. Everything we do on the internet uses energy,
which, yeah, still mostly comes from burning fossil fuels – but a lot of the things we
can do because of the internet are better for the climate than their analog alternatives. So, don’t feel too bad about using the internet,
just, try to use it for good. Like, by supporting Hot Mess on Patreon, where
you can give a few dollars a month to help us make Hot Mess a carbon neutral YouTube
channel, and help us keep making the show. Join us at patreon.com/hotmessPBS. Details and links are in the description below. And if you liked what you watched, consider
subscribing. Click that bell icon to get notified when
we have a new video.

Comments 76

  • It takes a lot of emotional energy that's for sure 😂😅

  • Oh the irony

  • How much energy would be used in farming beef alternatives? Such as farming shrimp, lobsters, other seafood, and even lesser popular choices like crickets and ants that are more commonly accepted in Asian countries?

  • You don't look like a chimera ant king 😀

  • Of course, if you start using high-tech gadgets like Alexa…
    But I think the main concern is more around the incredible waste of metallic ressources and energy used to make tons of fragile electronic devices difficult to repair with a short lifespan…

  • Well, if has something that I'll never give up for helping the climate is stop using internet.

  • GOD I am relieved!

  • We got ourselves an Internet GHG apologist right here

  • How much of that 5% is just cryptocurrency mining?

  • Are you going to talk about the sterling engine?

  • I can't remember the last time I used a DVD, CD, book or even had a periodical subscription. All of my devices are powered by solar on a net basis, and I send MWHs back to the grid every year (MWH = 1000KWH). Best month was 1.4MWH more going out of my meter than coming in, and that is for a total electric home, all electric powered yard tools and 2 EVs that are always charged at home.

  • Is it just me…..?or does.. she really look happier today?

  • A quite large number of data centers are located in places which minimizes their impact on climate change.

    Here in Sweden we have a lot of energy coming from hydroplants in the north, a place it is already cold. This minimizes the cooling needed, as the air outside is pretty cold already. Most of the year.
    And with electricity produced on the grid coming from nuclear (40.47%), hydro (39.70%) and wind (10.15%) (in 2016 numbers from SCB) the electricity needed for cooling/ventilation/servers/other is relatively carbon free.

  • The internet is definitely making our planet more….cool.

  • Didn't realize cylons could infiltrate via salt and pepper shakers. Probably cheaper to build than a human one.

  • Amazing videos each & every time, love the channel

  • You missed bitcoin, it uses a ton of energy, and if it keeps devoloping at this rate it would need as much energy as the entire world uses these days.

  • I Can Watch All The Cat Videos Guilt Free!!!!

  • Please do a video on programs like Ecosia that allow you to "buy back" your carbon emissions!

  • Great channel, keep up the videos

  • hmm you do know another problem is that we have to use nat cause we do use IPV4? this means you need a lot more power to actualy send the data to you. that is a bigger problem.

  • God this video was boring. I couldn't finish it.

  • All I could think all video was "how little energy would it take for Miriam to fix her hair"…. very little I'm sure.

  • Well, my home rig can easily consume 200W so I'm definitely not doing my part…

  • I think ecosia ( web browser) would have been a good sponsor for this video.

  • alright i get it I'll unsub so that I don't waste more energy on videos

  • Great video! I actually thought that internet energy consumption was higher, it's a bit of a relief to know it is just about 2%… But like some people mentioned, I'm curious how much Bitcoin/cryptocurency mining influences the overall picture.

    Another topic that would be a nice follow up is the matter of the gadgets themselves! Now only carbon emissions from extracting and processing all the materials and complex electronics, but maybe also a bit on the pollution and limitations of the resources we use (how much Lithium is still around? Should we worry about it as a limited resource? It's definitely non-renewable…)

    Keep up the good work!

  • if you are worried about emission level + pollution, but still want reliable 24/7 internet, then support nuclear. it is on 24/7 with full/near full capacity and produces emission and pollution free clean energy. the whole world can be powered cleanly and economically if we really want it. nuclear+hydro+geo is the answer to climate change, solar and wind plays a supplementary role at best.

  • Could we say that if ALL the people on the planet had internet then it would use 4% of the electricity? It's a lot, but nothing compared to the benefits to the world.

  • Are Google's data centers powered by solar panels?

  • "Internet connected devices uses 5% of the worlds electricity" That is grossly under estimated. Electric cars, computers, phones – everything is on the internet. Soon all fridges, ovens, washers and light bulbs will also be on the internet.

  • U look soo tired

  • Energy austerity is cancerous mindset. Nuclear power provides abundant, safe, CO2-free electric power

  • Does anyone think Miriam looks like she's related to Olivia from SciShow???

  • This is why i use Internet for.

  • A video about…. nothing.

  • This would be a perfect video for Ecosia to sponsor! I've been using it for the past few months on my phone, laptop and at work too!

  • You forgot about the amount of energy it takes to manufacture the devices (cell phones, tablets etc) and the inevitable pollution this causes.

  • Could we design an internet infrastructure that is net zero energy or completely off the grid?

  • Please explain carbon neutral YouTube channel. How does that work?

  • Don't worry about electricity and pollution from it, if you use solar energy… That way you can even use a supercomputer only to watch this video without polluting the environment!

  • You look hot 🔥 🔥

  • Miriam ♥

  • HOT MESS It's Okay to be smart There's 1 time where I'm recharging my smartphone without fossil fuels : While in Norway and Sweden. Over there {where I have family and friends} their reliance on renewable energy is over 💯% . 😛 🔌📲 🌞🌨🌬 🚘

  • I mean, there are people who throw not very old electronic gadgets and buy new ones in the market. This wastes the metallic substances, which are used to make all the gadgets.

  • The problem is not Internet, but the way to produce elettricity.

  • it's possible to charge devices that connected to internet with renewable energy, but no so much for transportation vehicles

  • Can you please back up your assertion that digital materials are better for the environment than paper materials?

  • She is hot and mess

  • What about the manufacture of the devices…. There has to be a pretty significant effect coming from the rare earth mining, assembly, and plastic

  • Forward Slash

  • Hey alexa ! this is so sad !

  • HMMM what about bitcoin mining ? I am so perplexed !! plus the components used to fabricate computers and accessories, and cellular phones. Also say this is not as worse as alternatives so we should do it is the fallacy of two wrongs make a right…

  • But… analog is my a e s t h e t i c

  • This is interesting!

  • Can you do a video about how much metals is there, and how long they would last for? Because just like we use more and more fossil fuels, we use more and more metal.

  • The shirt

  • This episode irks me a bit. Compared to the baseline data centers have some advantages on energy including that they sometimes use local generation which is more efficient.

    Almost universally computers and devices have used less energy. Look at an old flip phone. It'll probably have a 1200 mAh battery. While a new smart phone like the iPhone has a 1700 mAh battery. From a dumb phone to a ghz cpu, gpu and bright screen and not even a doubling in battery capacity.

    Technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy use 0.5 watts when transmitting at full power.

    Gaming rigs typically don't exceed 500 watts.

    You can account for ALL energy use of the Internet in terms of the energy saved by switching from CFLs to LED lighting.

  • A Hot Mess video that was optimistic and encouraging of something?? That hasn't happened since the video about neighbors helping each other.

    It's really tiring trying to learn about the climate when everything about it is so…. discouraging.

    Thanks for a nice break on this one. I enjoyed it

  • Carbon neutral YouTube channel ? Seriously

  • I don't think it's fair to count all devices that can be connected to the internet toward the internet's power consumption. Most of the power used by these devices doesn't contribute to it's internet connectivity, and often times, they don't even need to be connected to the internet to operate.

  • 5%, uhmmm, 5,000% of the world's electricity could be met with just safe, meltdown proof molten salt reactors.
    Please search Alvin Weinberg and the MSRE at ORNL.
    The waste problem is not really a problem! The loss of coolant issues from conventional LWRs are not a problem with MSRs, either! Make them fast reactors, and there are no long lived waste problems – at all!
    Can we really supply 10x the current world energy demands with just (non nuclear) renewables? No, unless we build a global grid consisting of hundreds of continent spanning HVDC lines and cover about 2-5% of the land with solar.

  • I have a burning question: is using the cloud actually better for the environment? Everyone tells you to go digital to save paper, but cloud backups use electricity, produce heat, and requires multiple backups in multiple data centers, which uses more electricity, produces more heat, and also requires metal. Overall is it really better to go paperless?

  • Smashes I pad lol

  • 30 BILLLION at 0:53 what do I win!

  • Not only am I wasting my life but I'm also wasting my time/energy on the internet on memes rip polar bears

  • Creepy all hearing devices oh god

  • I still buy my video games, CDs, BlueRay DVDs physically. Had a terrible experience with data corruption; never trusted 'the cloud' and I enjoy displaying these tangible objects on my entertainment shelf.

  • "GOOGLE technically an alaphbet owned company named deepmind" what in the world?!?!?!

  • This might be crazy but hear me out
    N U C L E A R I N T E R N ET S E R V E R S

  • Is the Internet digital or analogue?

  • I certainly don't need to leave the house as often as I used to, now that I can read up on things I need at home rather than having to go to the library. And watching films in the comfort of my own home rather than driving to the cinema (yes, driving, as I live far away from the nearest cinema and public transport does not exist in the evenings). So yes, it does cut down on a lot of things… BUT I refuse to give up my habit of reading actual books. Besides, having them all sit on my shelves binds carbon, too.

  • But farming animals is using a ton of energy, water, it's making us resistant to antibiotics, makes those poor being suffer and also makes us sad and unhealthy.

  • Is there a source for the claim that using the internet is etter for the enviornment than using paper from recycled sources and responsible forestry?

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