Every website and product connected to the internet would not be able to exist without a vast network of wireless routers, fiber optic cables running underground and underwater, and data centers that house the servers which bring the internet to life. Data centers in the U.S. alone eat up 70 billion kilowatts of energy per year, according to a 2016 estimate from the Department of Energy — that’s 1.8 percent of all energy use across the country.
The internet is not ethereal, and a new project from the blog Low-Tech Magazine aims to make that issue more tangible. Low-Tech Magazine — a blog operated by Kris De Decker that has run on WordPress since 2007 — launched a “Low-Tech,” solar version of the site that’s designed from the ground-up to use as little energy as possible. In a Skype call with Motherboard, De Decker said that he doesn’t think people don’t care about how much energy it takes they use the internet, they just don’t understand the extent of the problem. “There’s this idea that the internet is immaterial, it’s somewhere floating in clouds,” he said. “Of course, it’s a very material thing that uses resources, materials, energy — and quite a lot actually.”