Earth-Friendly Web Browsing

Have you ever thought that software can be a pollutant? I had to witness it during my professional career several times. A piece of software is polluting the environment if it consumes more energy than the optimal amount for the task at hand. For example instead of optimizing their apps, some companies just throw more computing power, more machines at the problem. Which means more energy usage, thus more impact on Earth. Shame on them all. On my projects energy efficiency is always an important feature, but what we do if we are just mere mortals and use software instead of writing it? Of course you can choose wisely. Machines and applications that consume less energy and use it more efficiently than others. This is for example why am I using OS X instead of Windows. Generally omitting something that you don’t need or don’t use is a good practice to save energy. So to get to the point of this post…

When was the last time you clicked on an ad? If you are like me, then it would be hard to remember. I only clicked an on-line ad less than five times in my entire life. And how many ads are displayed during a regular day? Countless. They are served, transmitted and displayed – just to be finally ignored. Energy is wasted on the server side, on transmitting the useless data and on displaying the ads in your browser. And energy is wasted by your brain to scan around them for the real content. So do a favor for yourself and install an ad blocker. I’m using Adblock Plus in Firefox. It is fully automatic, and you can say goodbye to irritating ads about dating Chinese ladies, sneaky forex deals and speeding up your Mac. Ironically you can speed up your Mac by removing the ads about speeding it up :)…

The other thing you can do is disabling or uninstalling Adobe Flash. It is a huge CPU hog, and visiting some sites with heavy Flash content will immediately spin up the fans in your machine. This is why Apple ditched it from MacBook Airs. I regularly joke that Adobe should be fined for mass-pollution. The number of sites that require Flash is decreasing on daily basis (thanks to the iPad for example), and you can live without it. I still have it installed for some rare cases, but it is disabled by default in Firefox.

Note: You might have noticed that my former website uses Flash. Getting rid of it was one of the drivers behind merging that site into this one.

An interesting coincidence is that the most annoying ads are using Flash…

So with these two simple things anyone can reduce his/her web browsing carbon footprint. Imagine how much energy can be conserved if millions of people do the same!