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New world. How to reduce the environmental impact of digital in everyday life?

Solar panels on the roof of the Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, September 4, 2018. (MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

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Four grams of CO2. This is what would generate on average each e-mail sent. A figure that can climb up to 50 grams with an attachment, according to the Ademe. Indeed, when we send an e-mail, it mobilizes a computer or a smartphone at the start, the same thing on arrival, data centers on both sides, computer links, etc. TheDigital technologies have an impact on global warming, which is not really neutral. We talk about it during the COP24 and #AlertePollution USAinformations.

Because all this needs to be powered by electricity. When we know that more than 10 billion emails are exchanged every hour in the world, we have an idea of ​​the scale of the problem. For example, a company with 100 employees would generate 13.6 tonnes of CO2 per year.

To limit the damage, the Ademe advises not to send useless e-mails, to avoid sending in bulk and not to send messages too “heavy”. What is a “heavy” email? It is a message containing a lot of text but especially images, a signature with logo, attachments of several tens of mega, etc. Finally, clean up your e-mails. Hundreds of messages that sleep in folders are all digital data stored on servers that consume energy.

It's not just email that consumes. Each query in your favorite search engine also generates CO2, as it queries computers in a data center. Above all, let's not talk about video streaming services like Netflix or YouTube that mobilize large amounts of storage and bandwidth. In general, the cloud, despite its many benefits, is unfortunately a big consumer of energy.

Against this, there are some good practices. For example, a laptop consumes 50% to 80% less than a desktop computer. Ditto for a cable connection that consumes less than Wifi. However, some Ademe tips seem difficult to follow, such as searching for a site in its browsing history rather than making a new query on a search engine.

Also be aware that some web browsers are more greedy than others. The most energy-consuming would be Chrome (27 Wh for 1000 page views), ahead of Internet Explorer and Firefox. Fortunately, the digital giants are doing a lot of work to limit their carbon footprint. Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft say that some or all of their installations are now powered by renewable energy, including the very demanding data centers.

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