I’ve spilled gallons of ink over the past several years urging people to kick their porn habits for a host of reasons: It kills marriages, mainstreams sexual violence, causes erectile dysfunction, and tears at our social fabric. But for those of you with a more environmentalist bent, it turns out that there’s another good reason to turn off the filth faucet: to save the planet.
I’m not kidding, either. According to recent research, compulsive porn use and Netflix binge-watching are enormous contributors to pollution. From the National Observer:
An explosion in online video consumption in recent years, propelled mostly by those two sources, created 300 million tonnes of carbon emissions (MtCO2) last year, according to research conducted by The Shift Project, a French think tank focused on a transition away from carbon. That is roughly the same amount released by Spain, or one per cent of global emissions.
Pornographic videos made up 27 per cent of all online video traffic in 2018, generating more than 80 MtCO2, while the greenhouse-gas emissions of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime were 100 MtCO2eq/year, or similar to those of Chile, the report said.
In response, the French think tank is calling for “digital sobriety,” which I must say is a pretty great concept that I think we should all collectively get on board with. The report, in fact, explicitly lays out the fact that our societies are going to have to make tough choices if we want to address a range of environmental concerns, it is likely that we will have to choose which online video to prioritize in order to properly “manage the energy consumed by digital technologies.
“Since we are constrained by climate crisis and the planet’s finite raw resources, not choosing means potentially allowing pornography to mechanically limit the bandwidth available for telemedicine, or allow the use of Netflix to limit access to Wikipedia,” the report notes. “In the 21st century, not choosing is no longer a viable option.
Over at Grist, Molly Enking put it bluntly: “When it comes to climate change, there can be a lot of hand-wringing and confusion on the part of the individual. ‘How can I possibly make an impact??’ you say. ‘I’m not an elected official!’ you say. Well, here’s something you can do to help reduce emissions and fight climate change: STOP WATCHING SO MUCH PORN.” In fact, she goes on, “emissions from watching pornography alone were equal to the emissions of the entire country of Belgium.
This is what I call a bipartisan platform with a win-win proposal: working to save the planet and the minds of the upcoming generation at the same time. I can’t think of anybody who could reasonably disagree. If reducing porn use can reduce emissions, then surely the progressives can begin plugging for a reduction in porn use the same way they champion the elimination of plastics. If digital pornography is not only rewiring the brains of children and young people, but is also hurting the planet, then surely we can link arms and declare war on the porn industry.
I already knew pornography was poisonous, but I have to admit I had no idea that it was also a factor in a crisis that progressive leaders consistently warn threatens the very existence of humanity on earth. If those pushing for action on climate change are consistent and wish to create coalitions to begin taking meaningful action, then this new research seems like a great way to bridge ideological divides and to incentivize influential interest groups to begin taking meaningful action.I, for one, look forward to progressive governments treating pornographic filth the same way they treat dirty coal — only more dangerous.