Streaming porn might not be helping the environment

If the guilt of sneaking off into the basement bathroom to watch a few porn videos on your smartphone wasn’t enough, now avid smut viewers can carry the potential concern of harming the environment.

Long gone are the days of high-grossing pornographic DVDs, and The Atlantic raises an interesting possibility that the energy required to stream such vast amounts of porn takes a larger environmental toll than pre-digital consumption.

Via the Atlantic:

Using a formula that Netflix published on its blog in 2015, Nathan Ensmenger, a professor at Indiana University who is writing a book about the environmental history of the computer, calculates that if Pornhub streams video as efficiently as Netflix (0.0013 kWh per streaming hour), it used 5.967 million kWh in 2016. For comparison, that’s about the same amount of energy 11,000 light bulbs would use if left on for a year. And operating with Netflix’s efficiency would be a best-case scenario for the porn site, Ensmenger believes.

Adult film companies suggest porn clips are being viewed at much higher rates when compared to peak DVD sales, although sales of pornography have not been typically archived as a whole in the industry, and the same goes for “accurate” streaming data.

It’s an unusual thought that an industry forced to move to the digital age might be more damaging to the environment than its previous manufacturing and distribution methods.

Ensmenger "agrees that the numbers are nebulous at best," according to The Atlantic. "But like Dines, he still thinks these questions are worth asking, even if only to raise awareness that internet porn does take an environmental toll." Read the rest