Binging Netflix can ACTUALLY hurt the planet — but here's what you can do to help
Bad news, binge-watch fans who also happen to love Planet Earth — at the rate we’re going now, Greenpeace says video streaming will increase our carbon emissions, with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all being named as companies who need to do better when it comes to being green.
According to Mashable, Greenpeace — in its annual report called Click Clean — revealed that both streaming videos via millions of servers and transmitting shows to devices uses a ton of energy, and our favorite places to binge haven’t done as much as other tech giants, like Apple and Facebook, to reduce their carbon footprint.
“If those companies don’t join the [clean energy] race in a real way, that growth is going to be driving more demand for dirty energy,” Gary Cook, senior IT analyst for Greenpeace, told the outlet.
Indeed, while Facebook and Apple have invested heavily in renewable energy and energy efficiency at their data centers, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all scored poorly in categories like “energy transparency” and “renewable procurement,” referring to “efforts to purchase cleaner electrons or invest in wind and solar projects.”
Mashable also spoke with Arman Shehabi, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and got some scary numbers: “in 2011, Americans streamed 3.2 billion hours of video, which consumed 25 petajoules of energy and resulted in 1.3 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.”
It’s likely only grown since then as we stream more and more video, and while companies like Amazon are expanding to fit our needs, they’re also hurting us by setting up shop in states that lack clean energy policies and instead rely on coal and other fossil fuels, like Virginia.
… Which leads us to how we can help, which is a bit more complicated since we’re all simply consumers. Of course canceling our Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu accounts would be a small step, but a pretty useless one in the long run, and who wants to miss Season 2 of Stranger Things?
Instead, picking up the phone (or clicking on the laptop) to contact executives from these companies on social media and via petitions, and more importantly, contacting local and state representatives to push for cleaner energy policies so companies like Amazon will be forced to reduce their carbon footprints, is the better option to ensure cleaner streaming. It’ll be a long, hard road now that Donald Trump has nominated folks like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, but the House of Representatives’ Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition is an excellent resource for those hoping to get involved and do more for the planet.