Alun Morgan

As we wait out Covid-19 at home, energy use and thermal management issues remain.

Many of us have been spending a lot more time with our computers than usual, working from home, shopping online, connecting with friends remotely, and consuming more streaming services. In the past, traditionalists have criticized such “virtual living,” but in the current situation we are fortunate to have these services that help us connect and carry on without physical contact.

On the other hand, it seems the earth is enjoying the break, particularly areas of China and the US usually suffering from traffic smog, and in Venice’s now clearer canals. The environmental effects of this unprecedented worldwide shutdown of human activity could provide interesting data to mull over as we seek solutions to our ongoing climate challenges.

It’s less clear whether there will be any significant effect on global temperatures. Our online services are a lifeline, but running the internet consumes a huge amount of energy. It’s reckoned that the six billion cumulative streams of the most popular music video in history – Despacito – have consumed as much energy as 40,000 US households in one year, generating carbon emissions equivalent to the annual output of 100,000 taxis.

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