You might think that watching cute kittie videos on YouTube is as harmless as it gets. You’d be wrong. Online video is destroying the Amazon jungle, melting glaciers in Greenland and kindling wildfires in California.
There’s no video without electricity. And no electricity without carbon emissions.
Stored in data centres, videos are transferred to our terminals (computers, smartphones, connected TVs, etc.) via networks (cables, optical fiber, modems, mobile network antennae, etc.). All of these require electric power whose production consumes resources and normally involves CO2 emissions.
Unlike sending a text message or an email, video is a dense medium of information. Ten hours of high definition video uses more data than all the articles in English on Wikipedia in text format.
This means that online video viewing generated 306 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2). That’s as much greenhouse gas as Spain emits: — fully 1% of global emissions.
Here’s the link with pornography.
Pornographic videos make up 27 percent of the world’s online video traffic. Taken alone, in 2018 they generated more than 80 MtCO2 — as much as all of the households in France. That is close to 0.2 percent of global CO2 emissions. And that probably excludes the contribution of soft porn on mega-sites like YouTube.
The point is that watching pornography not only destroys your relationships, harms children and demeans women, it also wrecks the environment.
So an international agreement to ban online pornography would kill two birds with one stone. It would fight the erosion of family-friendly values and it would fight climate change.
Back in 2013 Iceland’s parliament considered banning online pornography as harmful to children and demeaning to women. The proposal sank under the weight of criticism from free-speech advocates (and pornography lobbyists). But if it is true, as Swedish high school activist Greta Thunberg says, that climate change is an emergency which demands immediate action, why not reconsider this ban on a world-wide scale?
Some of her words apply just as well to pornography as to climate change:
We are about to sacrifice our civilization for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue to make enormous amounts of money. … But it is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few … You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future.
Isn’t it worthwhile sacrificing the opportunity to gawk at misogynistic, depraved, toxic video to save the future?
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet