By this point, we've all been on both sides of it: speaking on a Zoom call, and feeling that sinking depth of human disconnection in your gut as you try to articulate something to a screen of blacked-out faces, and also being one of those blacked-out faces for any number of reasons (some of which are arguably more valid than others).
But a new study from Purdue University suggests that turning off your camera might actually have an altruistic purpose as well:
Despite a record drop in global carbon emissions in 2020, a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and more at-home entertainment still presents significant environmental impact due to how internet data is stored and transferred around the world.
Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide (a gallon of gasoline burned from a car emits about 8,887 grams), requires 2-12 liters of water and demands a land area adding up to about the size of an iPad Mini.
But leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%. Streaming content in standard definition rather than in high definition while using apps such as Netflix or Hulu also could bring an 86% reduction, the researchers estimated.
So there you have it. Next time your boss tells you to turn your camera on, you say "No, because climate change."
Image: Nicole Waleczek (WMDE) / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)