As far as environmental damage is concerned, our increasingly-online lives incur a massive toll.
If everything continues on its current course, then the internet is expected to generate about 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions by 2030, according to The New Republic. That would make its environmental impact worse than any individual country on Earth, except for the U.S., China, or India.
In other words, our internet use is linked to a vicious cycle of environmental devastation, making it increasingly clear that something has to give.
Aside from transitioning to a web powered by renewable energy, experts and activists pointed out to New Republic some major ways to cut back on the internet’s carbon emissions.
Among them: removing online ads and behind-the-scenes tracking tools, and stem the rise of energy-intensive video streaming services.
The main challenge, of course, is that filling webpages with ads and extracting personal data from users are the two main business models that sustain the internet.
In other words, getting rid of adverts and surveillance would simultaneously improve the internet and make greener, but would also make it much harder to fund.
“We have to rethink how we get our information and how we access it,” Tim Frick, CEO of an eco-friendly digital agency called Mightybytes told New Republic.
READ MORE: Can the Internet Survive Climate Change? [The New Republic]