From the energy required to power a computer to that needed to operate a website, the Internet as we know it today, raises great environmental concerns. Statistics are alarming: the carbon emissions of a single, average server are as high as 15 mpg SUV, meaning that by 2020, the footprint of web hosting companies will be bigger than that of the aviation industry.
Aggravating the situation is the speed at which consumption is increasing, mostly due to the growing number of servers, but also because more people are using the Internet. This growth began escalating in 2005, when it was estimated that the energy needed to run all the servers of the world was equal to that consumed by as many as 14 power plants.
Yes, websites can have a devastating effect on the world’s already strained environment. And just like anything else, they must be directed into a green, sustainable path, through environmentally conscious choices at both the source and the consumer level. The Internet has the potential of bringing people together and make information and knowledge accessible to anyone at any given time. We don’t want to lose our beloved Internet, but we need to make it greener. Just like any technology, the Internet can either be used for the good of humanity and of the Earth, or trigger tremendous negative consequences.
The solution exists and it’s called ‘Green Web Hosting’, an innovative, original mesh of technologies and choices which have the potential of changing the industry from destructive to flourishing. Instead of using carbon emitting generators to power their websites, certain providers are shifting to greener technologies. Whether it’s by decreasing their energy consumption or even switching to renewable sources, these eco-friendly hosts are gaining popularity by the day. Why resort to fossil fuels when the sun is shining, when the wind is blowing? Why resort to easier, cheaper solutions, when they have been proven to be devastating in the long run? It is the great challenge of our modern times, overcoming the attractiveness of short-term benefits and instead, looking far ahead into the future, at what is best for our children and our planet.
Although traditional hosting is still the major trend, always more companies are jumping into this innovative, green boat. And again, just like anything else, shifting to an environmentally sustainable approach has its long-term benefits, in terms of both costs and efficiency. Today, among the many criteria used to evaluate and rank websites, sustainability sits right next to speed and reliability.
This growing green community includes the wind-powered HostGator websites, the tree-loving iPage providers, and L’Hôte Libanais’s choice, Greenshift, which runs its website with a neutral carbon footprint. It is not an easy shift, but then again, living an environmentally conscious, sustainable life in this ever-changing, complex world, is not simple either. It takes determination, strength and courage to be different, to choose the alternative way instead of the traditional and common. It takes looking beyond our computers, beyond our habits, far beyond what is conventionally provided to us. It takes feeling that we are part of something bigger, and understanding that the wellbeing of a forest, of an ocean, of a flock of birds, and ultimately, of our fellow humans, is what really matters. It can happen in a single moment, this change, which starts from within and then can spread across the world.
A greener Internet can become one of the many little steps we need to take, in the great struggle against the exploitation of our beautiful planet.
It takes feeling that we are part of something bigger, and understanding that the wellbeing of a forest, of an ocean, of a flock of birds, and ultimately, of our fellow humans, is what really matters.
Photo: Walid Rashid, Al Haush guesthouse