Your Netflix and porn addictions are contributing to global warming

Most Americans are busy taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint by dumping plastic for paper, but new research found that may also mean streaming less.

Earlier this year a study concluded that YouTube emitted about 11 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2016 on its own. A new report from the Shift Project concluded that the transmission and viewing of all online videos generate 300 million tons of carbon dioxide a year–roughly 1% of global emissions. The big takeaway from its findings: To reduce our negative impact on the planet, we need to curb our Netflix and porn habits.

To calculate the impact our Black Mirror binge sessions has on the environment, the Shift Project analyzed reports from network companies that looked at data traffic and how much electricity was consumed to drive it. This allowed researchers to calculate the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. They found that on-demand video services (like Netflix and Prime Video) are responsible for a third of the emissions–and porn videos generate another third. Based on these numbers, watching porn videos emit the same amount of CO2 as entire countries like Bangladesh and Nigeria!

Now, the organization is concerned that the world’s current streaming habits may be both problematic and unsustainable.

“If we let the video users go how they are going right now, there will be a time when we just won’t be able to really sustain these users, and I think it’s dangerous for the digital infrastructure for the digital world,” Maxime Efoui-Hess, co-author of the study, told Gizmodo.

The organization is calling for more regulations regarding online video use and even created a browser extension (only compatible with Firefox) called Carbonalyser. The extension is supposed to raise awareness by helping users find out how much emission their personal computer use is responsible for.

The authors of the study suggest limitations to the amount of data users have access to. They also want the media industry to make changes to their sites to help reduce emissions. For example, nixing auto-replay features on sites could drastically reduce the number of videos users watch, ultimately reducing emissions.

Though people infrequently think about it, streaming comes with a hefty price paid for by the environment. So, continue to trade plastic for paper, and perhaps leave that last episode of Stranger Things for another day.

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H/T Gizmodo

Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.