NEWS: 4K Streaming impacts carbon emissions says Royal Society

flipfella

Active Member
Streaming is the future! What a joke, we are supposed to get more resolution and bandwidth as time goes by, not go backwards. The good news is most of the UK catchup services are already saving the planet with low bitrate SD streaming.
 

barkzz

Active Member
I've noticed that Netflix have been particulary bad since the first down rate to 720p. If it isn't 4k HDR/4K HDR, the quality has been shocking. Prime on the other hand, sublime
 

Chevyonfuel

Well-known Member
Here lays a paradox for the BBC, of allowing consumers to stream Our Planet in 4K...
Presumably future nature shows will be only be available in 240p, or 480p, so long as we promise to plant a tree...
 

Christian1975

Active Member
I am sure that the impact of streaming a movie in full 4K and Atmos in my lounge is much lower than getting in my 2.5 tonne car and driving to the cinema and back.
And probably the environmental impact of making and transporting the blu-ray to my house.
Surely this about finding answers that give people pleasure but with less impact rather than taking that pleasure away?
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Just the excuse the streaming services are looking for to drop bitrates but still charge full whack for what they offer. I’d like to see the data that they have to support their claims. Headline numbers gets the political bods interested, as we saw earlier in the year when that numpty from the EU failed to engage brain before opening his mouth, resulting in months of poor Netflix service, whilst we still paid full price.

This is only part of a bigger picture on what the global warming footprint of the digital age brings. There needs to be a bigger discussion about this.
 

MikeTVMikeTV

Well-known Member
It really doesn't matter what the European 1st world does at all, most of us are educated, recycle where we can, put our rubbish in a bin instead of throwing it in streams or the sea, when you have nearly 3 billion russian, Indian and Chinese pumping out as much crap as they can as fast as they can with little to no regulation.

Do physical discs have a have a large carbon footprint?

Plastic cases and discs, wrapped in plastic, selling them in shops with lots of lighting, staff travelling there on the roads, customers travelling there also.

Bit of a nonsense article this, between 1 and 5 percent, that's a rather large margin of error.
 

LotusElan

Distinguished Member
Is it April 1st already? I must have slept through the last few months.

"streaming an hour’s worth of video content to a phone in 4K UHD" - what's the point? Genuine question; is there really that much of a difference watching content in 4K on a 6" screen compared to (e.g.) 1080p? It's not like anybody is getting the optimal viewing experience using a mobile or tablet.

Anyway just switch off all of the high-power TV transmitters and force people to stream instead*. That'll save a bit of juice.

Alternatively if we really want to save the planet then it's time to flatten the rate of growth in population and constrain the number of resource consumers... **

* As somebody is bound to comment ("think about the old [email protected]!") - this is a (pretty weak) joke!
** Unfortunately this bit isn't a joke.
 

Andrew1472

Distinguished Member
Who knew things were that bad?
At least the need for virtual meetings will be ending soon. All that bandwidth saved. That will help a bit and encourage everyone to get back in their cars to catch that flight to a face to face meeting so solving the problem.🤷‍♂️
How about concentrating on deforestation, oil use and coal burning power stations for now instead of this nonsense. A radical idea I know.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
What an absolute crock of ****. You could point at absolutely anything that uses energy and tell people they should do less of it to help the environment, but you’d have to be some kind of halfwit to point the finger at higher quality home entertainment a) under the current circumstances and b) given how trivial the impact is compared to heavy industry, international air travel, however many millions of cows there are, etc etc etc, down a very long list.

I shall be streaming in the best possible quality and making absolutely no apology for it!
 

PlexShaw

Well-known Member
Here lays a paradox for the BBC, of allowing consumers to stream Our Planet in 4K...
Presumably future nature shows will be only be available in 240p, or 480p, so long as we promise to plant a tree...
Our Planet is a Netflix show. You're probably thinking of either Blue Planet II or Seven Worlds, One Planet. 🤓
 

Rolph77

Active Member
A recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme titled 'Is Your Online Habit Killing The Planet?' is very interesting and well worth a watch.
They used several examples, Data Centres are consuming vast amounts of energy worldwide, something that is increasing exponentially year on year.
In certain cases, yes it is better for the environment to drive a car to a destination rather than go online.
Have a watch.
 

shagaboopon

Well-known Member
A recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme titled 'Is Your Online Habit Killing The Planet?' is very interesting and well worth a watch.
They used several examples, Data Centres are consuming vast amounts of energy worldwide, something that is increasing exponentially year on year.
In certain cases, yes it is better for the environment to drive a car to a destination rather than go online.
Have a watch.

The problem with programs like that and indeed this particular article is they look at the technology in isolation for what they are using. They rarely take into account the huge savings they make elsewhere. Huge data centers hosting many cloud servers are far more efficient than companies running their own data centers with older outdated lower efficiency equipment.

Sure things like crypto currency farms should be outlawed as they offer little benefit to society and are effectively outputting carbon for virtual money.

In the case of this article it makes sense that your device should default to a stream quality that is fitting for the device size. Saying in general terms that should expand to all areas of streaming is just poor though. One of the main drivers for increased efficiency of codecs is the increase in quality, a 1080p stream has actually reduced in size while increasing in quality over the last 5 years. I rarely watch normal TV yet how much energy is being used keeping TV going when it could be moved I higher quality to streaming. Would that be a net loss on the footprint for example?
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
What an absolute crock of ****. You could point at absolutely anything that uses energy and tell people they should do less of it to help the environment, but you’d have to be some kind of halfwit to point the finger at higher quality home entertainment a) under the current circumstances and b) given how trivial the impact is compared to heavy industry, international air travel, however many millions of cows there are, etc etc etc, down a very long list.

I shall be streaming in the best possible quality and making absolutely no apology for it!

Totally agree. Absolutel nonsense article. We shouldn’t have to read that on an A/V website :D:D:D

4K all the way. Though, for streaming I only have 1080p Netfix :blush:

No point in upgrading as I plan on watching less next year as i’ll be busy taking 24 flights (well thats my target). When the environmental doomsters want to talk about carbon emissions and zillions of Chinese powered coal stations, or population control, then i’ll listen.
 

nonsoloinglese

Well-known Member
Crock of **** article, the emissions saved from not going to cinema etc.. go figure.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Cart before the horse. There are plenty of other things that need tackling before we worry about the impact of 4K streaming or how many emails that we send.
 

peterve

Active Member
Indeed ...

Today, this electricity market report came out. It's not like people who are streaming their content are the true bad guys and causing all this environmental trouble. But I'm afraid we're going to hear much more of this in the near future due to the fact that un-organised AV content consumers/streamers are an easy target, unlike large industries and other 'essential' energy needs.

According to Fraunhofer - the people behind MP3, HEVC, all kinds of compression techniques - videostreaming takes up around 80% of Internet traffic and the Internet as a whole is responsible for somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the yearly global energy consumption. So I can understand that scientists and politicians are looking for ways to make all this more cost-effective.

But this should never interfere with the integrity of the content as it was produced. Suggesting that we as consumers should make do with technically low quality content to save energy is like saying that a book can be printed with only half the amount of letters, in order to save polluting paper and ink.

Personally, I can clearly see a big difference between the UHD image quality from a disc versus a lowly streaming outlet, Amazon being the worst, all the way up to Apple TV 4K. But physical media are ultimately on the way out I'm afraid and therefore, in my opinion, the streaming quality needs to go up, instead of down. We need a lot more green and renewable energy and - if possible - even better codecs for increased sound and image quality. Lossless compression techniques that will help us get better streaming for less energy will of course be very welcome.

I also wanted to take a moment to thank the OP for starting this topic, I have been meaning to begin a discussion like this myself ever since the low bandwidth COVID-19 trouble, this spring. I fear we're going to hear much more of this in the near future and I hope everyone involved will start to see that merely cutting off data rates is not the solution.

Here's to hoping streaming outlets and Internet service providers are well aware of this and that they are already thinking about ways to get high-quality content streamed into our homes in a green, energy efficient and planet-friendly way.

But it has to be high quality!
 

Spennis

Standard Member
Saying that this is BS and that there are other things to worry about is just ignorant. You can't ignore one piece of a puzzle if you want to solve the puzzle. We need to become aware of these things and find sustainable solutions. Downloading beforehand rather than streaming and/or using physical media for high bitrate content might actually solve part of the problem, namely that of peak energy demand (the highest amount of energy used in a society at a given time). This is really the core issue here rather than the amount of energy used per se. Essentially we all want to stream things more or less at the same moment in time, which creates capacity issues in the electricity grid and requires us to fire up fossil fuel based peak power plants. This is not BS, this is one of the most pressing challenges we are facing in the coming decades, and data centres are most certainly part of the issue.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Ignoring the fact that energy demand will be the same in these situations. Your router, which runs 24/7 doesn’t suddenly draw more power when it’s streaming content, nor does your streaming device. The server farms delivering the content might increase their power demand slightly under heavy load, but whether you stream or download something for offline viewing the overall power demands will be similar.

Things like this are just knee jerk reactions to a wider picture. The connected age is with us, it’s part of society now. Suggesting that we all revert to SD material won’t make that much difference in the broader scheme of things. More efficient compression algorithms, use of multicast and so forth will help solve this problem.
 

Spennis

Standard Member
Higher bitrates demand higher bandwidth demands more energy (given the same compression). But again, the key issue is the timing of demand, not necessarily the demand per se. If we want to keep pushing for higher bitrates, we should think of ways to alter the timing of when those bits are delivered to people's homes in addition to thinking of ways to fit more useful information into those bits (i.e. compression).
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
The ability to download material for later local viewing during quieter periods on some sort of timer or schedule would make sense. It’s not something that anyone seems to want to embrace just yet though.
 

Goooner

Distinguished Member
Easier to pirate if they’re downloaded rather than streamed? Maybe that’s the reason?
 

Spennis

Standard Member
The ability to download material for later local viewing during quieter periods on some sort of timer or schedule would make sense. It’s not something that anyone seems to want to embrace just yet though.

Yes. That could help to solve the issue of peak demand AND allow for higher quality as it would avoid the need for buffering and perhaps even the need to keep file sizes down for streaming.

I think the piracy issue is relatively small and solvable. Many streaming providers, like Netflix, already allow for offline viewing.
 

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