You have probably heard a lot of information about video communication and its advantages and disadvantages. Secure video conferencing is not just about the privacy of your personal data and related information. But have you ever thought about what negative consequences this form of communication can have on nature and the resources of our planet?
What needs to be done to benefit not only speakers and participants of virtual meetings but the entire planet and to make video conferences “eco-friendly”? Look at the facts and follow simple rules. If you don’t feel like reading a lot, just remember to not turn on your camera during online meetings to protect both nature and privacy.
Some Green Aspects to Video Conferencing
Is it true that the transition to an online mode of life has improved the ecological situation on the planet?
Indeed, researchers revealed a significant reduction in carbon emissions in the last years. Working from home and learning via a video conferencing platform during the pandemic had a very positive impact on nature. But then, unexpectedly, the planet had to face another problem — the active use of online resources and its consequences. And it occurred to be not such an easy challenge.
The explanation of the influence of this technology on ecology
An hour of video connection (live on Instagram and YouTube) provides us with 150 to 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide emissions (for comparison, 3.8 liters of gasoline that a car burns give 8,887 grams). That corresponds to nearly 10 liters of contaminated water and soil.
The connection between video communication and our nature
If you only account for emissions and not the resource consumption of online activity, you may miss many important details. Today, studies are conducted to reveal the influence of modern technologies on water and land resources, as well as between electricity consumption and climate change.
Even in the previous decades, Internet-related carbon emissions were increasing, accounting for about 3.7% of harmful gases. Nevertheless, the extent to which water and land resources are used for online infrastructure is still poorly understood.
Many regions reported a rapid increase in traffic in recent years. If this trend continues in the future, the constant use of the Internet will cost us thousands of square kilometers of forests. It’s worth adding that the extra water needed to send the data is also enormous, and the land is enough for a city like Los Angeles.
Generally, the more video content an app provides, the more impact it has on the planet. However, the environmental influence differs not only from platform to platform but also for different regions and countries.
Investigations in this area were also made, and they showed unexpected results for some countries. For example, the Internet in Germany produces less carbon dioxide but requires 204% more land resources than the average.
Therefore, we need more studies in this area, and, actually, scientists are continuing them. Therefore, we will understand the connections better, which will help us to improve the situation.
How to Conduct Safe Videoconferencing and Do Less Harm?
If video conferences are so harmful, what do we need to do? It is difficult to stop using them as they have lots of benefits, and we have already gotten used to this format of virtual communication.
Scientists provide us with several solutions that can be quite helpful at least in the current stage, namely:
- The simplest and most effective solution is to turn off the camera, which will reduce the abovementioned values by 96%! If you simply downscale from 1080p or 4K to standard while watching Netflix, you’re already doing 86% less damage to the planet.
- The same goes for online meetings. So, the idea of simultaneously showing more than 20 cameras of participants during a video conference not only leads to noise and loss of control over the meeting but also harms the environment.
- However, if you take part in an online training or video conference without a webcam turned on, you will protect the resources of our planet. As a bonus, you will unload your Internet channel and avoid many problems with the quality of communication.
Today, we are aware that online communication via video conferencing platforms is sometimes the only way to keep offices, schools, and courses running. And it has its positive effects. For example, while using communicating online, we utilize less transport and electricity to ensure the operation of offices.
Perhaps in the future, the work of data centers will also become more environmentally friendly. But for now, try to stick to the tips and just use a camera and high resolution, in particular, less often to show and broadcast video. This will help our nature and planet and greenify your everyday life a bit.