Video games: environmental impact not virtual

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Interesting graphic regarding the ecological impact of video games. However it seems to imply that downloading has no environmental impact, and that is simply not true. It is likely that downloading has less impact, but cloud storage is pushing high energy consumption on server farms. If the current trend continues, the CO2 emissions of the Internet and cloud will double in ten years. Already it’s equal to the aviation industry.

There are other impacts that video game consoles have as well. They require rare earth minerals that are often extracted in environmentally stressed zones. I write a little about this in The Media Ecosystem (pp. 5-6):

… researchers found an important correlation between the Sony PlayStation 2 and the decline of the gorilla population in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2000 speculation on the price of tantalum, a key precious metal used in microelectronics such as cell phones and gaming devices, was driven by the impending release of the PlayStation 2. This led to a massive mining boom in the Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega national park, severely impacting the population of many animal species, including elephants, tortoises, birds, and small mammals. The park is home of the Grauer’s gorilla, which represents 86 percent of the planetary population of lowland gorillas. As a result of the tantalum rush, the Grauer’s gorilla population declined from seventeen thousand to three thousand. Fueled by consumer demand for gadgets and market speculation driven by internet trading, this tragedy reflects the problem of an economic paradigm that fails to account for living systems. The inability of media and gadget companies to incorporate an Earth system ethic into their design leads to a loss of biodiversity. Not only is it immoral to create systems that disregard life, such a loss has huge implications for the climate, for as we decrease biodiversity, regional ecosystems lose the ability to thrive and adjust under conditions of the extreme ecological disruptions that are increasingly commonplace.

H/T Ecomedia Studies