It’s rare that someone comes to me with a question about adult entertainment production and consumption that is totally unique, but writer Matt Kessler did just that several months back.

Matt and I had a very long talk about the environmental impact of internet porn — namely, was the fact that so much porn is consumed online (and thus so much less consumed via VHS, DVD, or other viewing method) a good or a bad thing for the environment?

At first glance, you might think: It’s totally better! Less plastic, items and goods, shiny DVD stuff, shipping costs, retail space, etc etc. But with the shift to internet porn viewing, legions more people are watching adult content — like, no comparison to even ten years ago. As such, there is more electricity, heat, computer and internet products, facilities that power the internet, etc etc. So there is still waste and an environmental impact, just in a different form — and apparently lots more of it.

Matt considered consumption shifts and environment impact in his recently published piece. Here’s a snippet:

Online streaming is a win for the environment. Streaming music eliminates all that physical material—CDs, jewel cases, cellophane, shipping boxes, fuel—and can reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 40 percent or more. Video streaming is still being studied, but the carbon footprint should similarly be much lower than that of DVDs.

Scientists who analyze the environmental impact of the internet tout the benefits of this “dematerialization,” observing that energy use and carbon-dioxide emissions will drop as media increasingly can be delivered over the internet. But this theory might have a major exception: porn…

Precise numbers don’t exist to quantify specifics, but the impression across the industry is that viewership is way, way up. [A piracy-based tube site], the world’s most popular porn site, provides some of the only accessible data on its yearly web-traffic report. The first “Year in Review” post in 2013 tabulated that people visited the site 14.7 billion times. By 2016, that number had almost doubled, to 23 billion, and those visitors watched more than 4.59 billion hours of porn. And [this piracy-based tube site] is just one site.

Is pornography in the digital era leaving a larger carbon footprint than it did during the days of magazines and videos?

Read Matt’s piece “The Environmental Cost of Internet Porn” on The Atlantic right here (Dec. 13, 2017).

(image via The Atlantic)

* * *

Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com.

Tagged on:                 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *