Cloudlandia Rivals Airlandia for Biggest CO2 Footprint

June 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

A few years ago China passed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (of course, US emissions still far exceed China’s on a per capita basis). So which countries come next? Who are #3, #4, and #5? Germany? Russia? India? Japan?

Well, according to a recent Greenpeace report, How Green is Your Cloud?, the #5 and #6 emitters are two countries that you may have never heard of, even though you are certainly a citizen or frequent visitor: Cloudlandia and Airlandia.

Cloudlandia is the “country” whose citizens are all people who use the internet. Every time you look up something on your smartphone (map directions, the phone number for the restaurant across the street) or a read a Green Science post, you trigger computer calculations at massive data centers all over the world. These computers, and the equally massive air conditioners that cool them off, rely on electricity, nearly all of which comes from fossil fuels.

Airlandia is also “up in the clouds”, but in a more physical way. Citizens of Airlandia earn their membership by taking an airplane flight. Pound for pound, mile for mile, the gases produced during airplane flight are much worse for the climate than gases produced by your car’s exhaust. As you might guess, the residents of Airlandia are quite well off and citizenship is a special privilege that the rest of the world can only dream about so they are unlikely to give this up.

If you would like to learn more about Cloudlandia and its electricity usage, check out Living on Earth’s Greening the Internet Cloud (April 20, 2012).

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Entry filed under: In the News.

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