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Survey: Most Americans Unaware of Link Between Internet Use and Climate

Two-Thirds Would Consider Picking a Streaming Service With Lower Environmental Impact

A new survey reveals that while most Americans are unaware that their personal use of streaming services has an impact on the environment, two out of three say they are willing to consider picking a streaming service with a lower carbon footprint if given a choice. The survey was conducted by DigiPlex, the Nordic leader for sustainable, innovative, and secure data centers.

“Every time someone streams a video, sends a text, or joins a video conference call, a data center somewhere in the world consumes power,” said Byrne Murphy, Chairman of DigiPlex. “While it seems that most Americans are unaware of this link, they care about their individual impact on the environment and would be willing to take action by choosing services that help to lower it. Large data producers should take note.”

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These survey results offer a fresh look at consumer sentiment in the U.S. as large data producers, which require massive amounts of energy to store data, are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Annually, data centers are estimated to be responsible for consuming one percent of the global electricity supply – more than most countries. The entire information and communications technology ecosystem which includes personal digital devices, mobile phone networks, and televisions are responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions – about the same as the entire global airline industry, according to the journal Nature.

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“We live in a digital world that is becoming even more so with COVID-19,” added Murphy. “As demand grows, so will the pressure to store data in energy-conscious facilities. That’s why more large data producers are looking to Nordic-based data centers for 100% low-cost renewable electricity, natural cooling, and scalability.”

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Specifically, the survey found that of Americans that regularly stream video or music to a device:

  • 3 out of 4, 73.3 percent, are unaware that streaming a video or song can create greenhouse gas emissions because of the electricity needed for a company to store and transmit the data.
  • 2 out of 3, 67 percent, said that when choosing between streaming video or music services, they would choose one over the other if it has less environmental impact and if that information was available to them.
  • Half of respondents, 50.8 percent, said that if they knew the environmental impact of a streaming service, it would or might affect how, or how often, they used it.

Methodology:

The survey was independently administered by Google Surveys and conducted online during July, 2020 with 500 respondents and a margin of error of +3.8%/-4.2%.

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