Camera Off!

Image of zoom conference call on mac book.

Zoom meeting? Quick, turn OFF the camera! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ah, FINALLY. Work done, laptop closed. Time to binge some Netflix! But does my downtime have a downside?

Producing and storing data takes a LOT of power, typically created by burning fossil fuels. 

Enter Renee Obringer and a team from Purdue, Yale, and MIT. They studied available carbon emissions data from several platforms, such as Youtube and Facebook. Using this data, Obringer estimated the amount of carbon emitted during our favorite electronic pastimes. 

Obringer found that an hour of video conferencing emits up to one kilogram of carbon into the environment. The good news? Turning the camera off reduces emissions by NINETY-SIX percent. What about streaming platforms, like Netflix? Binging in standard, rather than HD, reduces harmful emissions by eighty-six percent. 

Obringer hopes these findings lead to improvements in the way data is transferred and stored. Great news for our screens, and our planet!

We’ve heard about going paperless – how about camera-less? My quarantine chin hairs will thank you!

Reference: Obringer, R., Rachunok, B., Maia-Silva, D., Arbabzadeh, M., Nateghi, R., & Madani, K. (2021). The overlooked environmental footprint of increasing Internet use. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 167, 105389.