/Is the internet, data centers bad for the environment? (via Qpute.com)

Is the internet, data centers bad for the environment? (via Qpute.com)

If you’re concerned about climate change, should you feel guilty about hanging out online? Maybe not.

It’s been widely reported that data centers, the nondescript buildings that house the servers that keep our phones and computers buzzing with cool stuff, could gobble up enormous amounts of electricity over the coming decade. 

But you don’t need to put down your smartphone just yet. A study released Friday in the journalScience finds that though data center demand has grown 550% in the last eight years, the energy needed to power those data centers only grew 6%.

The report gives the most definitive number for global data center energy consumption available, said George Kamiya, emerging technologies analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris.

“Every few months it seems there’s another claim about the carbon intensity of Google searching or video streaming and often they’re outdated and ignore the rapidly changing technology that runs the internet,” said Eric Masanet, the paper’s lead author and a professor of engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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