How Green is My Garden? Website Bandwidth and Electrons


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 13, 2018      

Whoist greenerest than thou? Fun Friday blog subject. Is is possible WildSnow is greener than Patagonia? Certainly not when it comes to chlorophyll or activism. Yet, a few thoughts…

Bandwidth comparison.

Bandwidth comparison. Click to enlarge.

Even if Patagonia the company uses carbon neutral data centers for their web servers, how much carbon does your browsing of their website produce? I’ve mentioned before that the world wide web has the carbon footprint of, for example, the entire UK or more. Even if the actual storage (server) of a website is green as Pata’s probably is, by the time you see that homepage splash on your computer screen all sorts of electricity has been consumed, most often coal generated, over which you have little or no control (unless you’re in countries such as France or Norway with a preponderance of nuclear or hydro power, and are browsing to a website on a server in that same country).

In the case of our friendly comparison here, the electrical infrastructure of the internet, from hub to your home wireless router, has to pump 3,100 KB for your first view of the Patagonia website, and about three times less (893 KB) for your first stunning life changing experience of WildSnow dot com. Are we thus responsible for 1/3 less carbon in delivering our website? Perhaps, but again that would ultimately depend on what produced the electricity for the server farm. More, perhaps Patagonia purchases so many sustainable watts and carbon offsets they’re saintly, and easily compensate for their part in the country sized carbon footprint known as the world wide web.

One way publishers can help with this is by building low-bandwidth websites such as, yes, WildSnow dot com. While we could be leaner, we do ok and I’m always working to improve. If you’re curious, check out systywp.com for something that’s as green as you can get while still presenting actual content, beating both WildSnow and Pata’ by a mile. Granted, Systywp is not a ski touring website, but we’ll let that oversight go for a moment Click here to get Systywp numbers. And we should give them a shout out, even if all this seems a little like navel gazing (if you get a warning screen on Susty due to https issues, bypass/ignore).

I did a quick google regarding which data centers are serving the Patagonia website. Near as I could find, they’re using Microsoft, which is claimed to be “efficient.” Big websites these days tend to use content delivery networks (CDN) with often dozens of dispersed servers, making the determination of actual carbon footprint all the harder. Not sure about Microsoft and Pata’ but I’d be surprised if there was not a CDN in the mix as well.

Further reading:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilyeoh/2017/07/26/your-web-use-leaves-a-carbon-footprint-heres-how-you-can-reduce-it/#dfd64ee94015



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Comments

2 Responses to “How Green is My Garden? Website Bandwidth and Electrons”

  1. Kam DH July 15th, 2018 2:02 pm

    Thanks for the interesting points.

    My major beef with Bitcoin and other crypto “currencies”/scams is the amount of computation they require to verify transactions. By some accounts, this is more than many countries. This is engineered into the algorithm and will only grow as more people use these coins. I don’t see this kind of inefficiency allowing Bitcoin etc to ever get as big as their pushers say. Waiting for the day it crashes, not because I’m shorting it (risk averse) but to laugh at these fools.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 July 15th, 2018 4:06 pm

    Indeed, the carbon footprint of the crypto currencies is ridiculous. More than that, it’s a valid concern as it’s possible that no matter what else we do about carbon, the sheer demand of bitcoin mining for electrical power will obviate all our well meaning efforts to be efficient, and will continue to require more power than renewables can normally supply. It’s all a little silly, to put it lightly. The people who said that somehow the crypto currencies were going to “liberate” us from centralized evil banking. Nothing is free. I can delete my bank checking account in return for a scorched planet? Sounds like a bad deal.

    This is not the first time idealistic denizens of the digital sphere have foisted lame stuff on us. One of their earlier efforts in that area is now known as the world wide web, playground of criminals from Brazil to the Ukraine.

    Lou





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