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Surprising Science

Helping The Internet Become More Environmentally Friendly

The technology allowing you to read this is responsible for approximately two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions yearly. Researchers are developing new and improved models for measuring this output.

What’s the Latest Development?

A report recently published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology describes the development of two new models for measuring the information communication and technology industry’s impact on the environment. Researchers at the Australia-based Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell Labs say that these models, when tested on a network serving most California schools, delivered better and more accurate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission estimates than current top-down models. The new versions include allowances for equipment variations and other industry factors.

What’s the Big Idea?

Together, the structures that support telecommunications — including Internet, voice, video, and cloud services — produce more than 830 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly. At 2 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions, it may not seem like a large amount, but it puts the industry on par with aviation, and it’s expected to double in a mere 7 years. CEET, a public-private partnership, is the first research center dedicated to finding ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impact in this sector.

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