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[Slashdot] - The Internet Eats Up Less Energy Than You Might Think

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New research by two leading scientists says some dire warnings of environmental damage from technology are overstated. From a report: The giant tech companies with their power-hungry, football-field-size data centers are not the environmental villains they are sometimes portrayed to be on social media and elsewhere. Shutting off your Zoom camera or throttling your Netflix service to lower-definition viewing does not yield a big saving in energy use, contrary to what some people have claimed. Even the predicted environmental impact of Bitcoin, which does require lots of computing firepower, has been considerably exaggerated by some researchers. Those are the conclusions of a new analysis by Jonathan Koomey and Eric Masanet, two leading scientists in the field of technology, energy use and the environment. Both are former researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mr. Koomey is now an independent analyst, and Mr. Masanet is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Mr. Masanet receives research funding from Amazon.) They said their analysis, published earlier this month as a commentary article in Joule, a scientific journal, was not necessarily intended to be reassuring. Instead, they said, it is meant to inject a dose of reality into the public discussion of technology's impact on the environment. The surge in digital activity spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, the scientists said, has fueled the debate and prompted dire warnings of environmental damage. They are concerned that wayward claims, often amplified by social media, could shape behavior and policy.

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