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New Study Finds Digital Music Streaming Has Led to Increase in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Jay Gabler, writing at The Current:

    [A]ccording to a new study from European researchers. Today’s recording industry might not put as much trash in landfills, but streaming music has actually increased greenhouse gas emissions. It turns out that it takes way more energy to store and stream music than it took to manufacture and distribute hard copies…which may seem crazy, but think about how often you have to recharge your phone.

    That’s not to say the old days were all that great for the environment either. Vinyl production peaked in 1977, using 58 million kilograms of plastic. CD production peaked 23 years later, in 2000, and that required 61 million kilograms of plastic. All that plastic production, though, resulted in only about half as much greenhouse gas emission as streaming causes today.

    Oh, fun.

  2. Whoa. This is legitimately shocking.
    macbethfan likes this.
  3. rxbandit89

    probably over-caffeinated.

    Wow, I'm going to have to give this a read later. It's legitimately surprising. Given that there are so many variables in streaming infrastructure, I wonder if this is something that will be improved over time as batteries get more efficient and renewable energy adoption continues to grow.
    coleslawed and macbethfan like this.
  4. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    What about the CO emissions from people vehicles driving to the record store, plus all the drilling and manufacturing that’s involved in producing that fuel. Also, record stores had delivery trucks drive to them to provide stock and had to pay heat and electrical bills to pay, plus in having a structural building took away from potential green space.

    What about the electricity it took to power record players, and speakers, and eventually the batteries for Walkman that in the end ended up in the landfills.

    It’s all in how you spin it. Most of what people do for a very long time has had a negative impact on earth. If you told people stop listening to music in general, their would be less pollution, people would do nothing but press play on their next song. Even me replying to this post has a negative impact on the environment, because I will need to charge me device.
  5. joey-wan kenobi

    Happiness is a warm gun mama

    So long story short. Music increases emissions, regardless. We can distribute zero and drive to concerts, we can buy on wax or cd and all that landfill, or we can use energy to recharge/store in data centers.

    So, we’re all contributing to climate decline, regardless.
  6. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    So are cow farts.

    Not joking.

    Environmentalism requires a majority of people and governments being on board to work best. Plastic doesn’t walk and jump into the ocean. Cars don’t turn themselves on. People need to take care of the earth so much better, and education is a big part of that.

    I just find that excerpt above very misleading and closed off.

    I love me my Earth.
    joey-wan kenobi and brentkid like this.
  7. jorbjorb and rxbandit89 like this.
  8. Bayside 182

    Wolverine Supporter

    It makes sense but it's probably are harder sell to the public because it's not a physical thing you can witness. For example with recycling and landfills you can see it with your own eyes harming animals and the environment as a whole when you see that crap piling up.

    The amount that people use phones these days is astonishing and I'm sure music is only a small percentage of the emissions from cell phone use being so widespread.

    But regardless of what specific thing is causing the increase in harmful emissions, we should be working for alternative energy sources because just limiting the use of energy is not a realistic possibility.
    Raku likes this.
  9. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    Reading about Nuclear Power right now, and just checked this site for a break. Using electronic devices costs money, so anyone say i there would be not cost or emissions would be foolish (unless you are using alternative green power sources).
  10. recall reality

    "But existing is basically all I do!" Prestigious

    The article makes a great point in that we need to think about the impact of electricity use with music (and everything) digitization. Cryptocurrencies are having an insane environmental impact. We just had Earth Hour which always makes me think about this. One of many reasons we need to be moving to renewables, and fast.

    Looking at the data, the greenhouse gas equivalent of plastic production is a very small piece of the puzzle as far as the environmental impact of physical music. Definitely a little misleading.
  11. Glasses


    Aren't the corporations the biggest offenders:chin:
  12. Former Planets

    Aaaachem! Supporter

    It's snowing in Minnesota right now. Global warming is a hoax.
    bestofmoss, Brent and metallikunt like this.
  13. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    Yes and no. Some of them are also huge innovators, and re-invest in their own products and long term sustainability. If you’re a big enough corporation, you generally need to have tax write offs (and a good image). Many charitable initiatives are also sponsored by major corporations who have a negative impact. They try to balance the scale. It’s never going to be enough though.

    It’s really an everyone on board or it doesn’t work well enough sort of thing. You could go plant 20 trees, but if friend goes and cuts down 20 trees to (or a product that’s a result of), then 20-20 gets you back to where you’re started.

    The whole energy, environment thing is fascinating, but we are all not properly educated about it. Even simple things, like when you recycle a plastic bottle, remove the cap unless it’s clear. Some plastic recycling companies just garbage bottles with caps because of the different plastics. The cost to have someone remove the caps isn’t worth it. So, they why some corporations make Clear looking caps for bottles, so it can melted down with the same plastics the bottle is made of. If someone didn’t tell you, you’d probably just put the red cap back on your Coke bottle (for example) and think you are doing the right thing by throwing it in recycling. Waste management companies are different everywhere. But, that’s a way corporations make improvements to products to be more environmentally friendly, and people need to make sure it ends up in the recyclable bin, and management needs to make sure it’s addressed properly. If any step in the system fails, manufacturer, consumer, or waste management than its Earth -1, and another plastic bottle the gets wasted into the ocean, or ends up in a gutter (since plastics generally won’t break down on their own quickly).
  14. St. Nate

    We were just talkin' bout the Jesus. Prestigious

    well fuck me
  15. Omni


    They are for sure and they need to be held accountable but there are little things we all can do
  16. DesolateEarth


    Yet another reason for me to justify not using streaming services.
  17. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    Lots of little tho he and some big things too. Accountability across the board, since if we mess this one up (our planet), there is no second option.

    I don’t how many places do Earth Days, Earth Hours and such, but that stuff can be pretty powerful in helping educate people, and contribute back by cleaning or appreciate power consumption.
  18. JonnyMac

    Newbie Supporter

    This just reminds me of the last season of The Good Place. Even when we think we’re making a good decision, there are so many threads that make us contribute to something terrible.

    Somebody find me an Accountant...
  19. Quijiba


    So if i'm reading this correctly, the emissions are energy based. Transition to green energy grid (unless you already have one) and music streaming is cleaner, no?
  20. recall reality

    "But existing is basically all I do!" Prestigious

    This isn't universal, it varies so always check with your recycling company or municipality. The buyers for our recycling contractor use a process that sorts the caps which are used in manufacturing different things than the bottles themselves. It can depend on everything from your MRF or the end users sorting process. Unlike most plastic, bottles still have a decent domestic market in the US as a commodity. Plastics aren't recycled infinitely, it's cheaper to make new bottles with petroleum prices so low. They might get made into jacket fill or carpet but that's ultimately an object that ends up in a landfill or burned in a WTE plant at best. Recycling usually takes less energy than the manufacture of a new product but it still takes a lot of energy. I can't remember the last time I had a plastic bottle. I bring a reusable bottle everywhere.
    .K. likes this.
  21. ioev

    I'm a kid I'm a squid

    My take: article is super sensational. The actual data can be found here: RESEARCH

    The greenhouse emissions are way up because music consumption is WAY up. If people were listening the way they do now in the days of vinyl, tape or CD, we'd be in even more trouble, as the plastic requirements would also have skyrocketed.

    Also, these costs have nothing to do with charging the battery on your phone, the client playing the music has always had a power requirement, and if anything your phone/headphones are WAY more efficient than your old boombox.

    Also also, if you look at the chart you'll note that there are no stats at all yet for streaming services, the last format analyzed being MP3 downloads. However it would be a safe assumption that streaming music (in the absence of any local caching) rather than downloading tracks would use more energy.
  22. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    I use refillable bottle every day as well, but occasionally a drink bottle is made of something else.

    The hope is always “is there a secondary use?” And can we do it efficiently. I actually know people who make their own wine and store in 2L bottles, or I’ve heard of plastics being turned into a product for floor mats. Every area is different, but through effort and planning places become more “green”. Other counties do have stricter rules.
    recall reality likes this.
  23. johnnyferris

    Sic Parvis Magna Prestigious

    As a little aside, I recently transitioned into keeping all of my cds into one central binder. I now have three full trash bags of CD jewel cases, etc. If I throw these in my recycling trash bin is that enough or should I be taking these to an actual recycling location?
  24. .K.

    Trusted Prestigious

    I’d pull the booklets out and throw them in the paper/cardboard side if you’re not keeping them.

    I’m assuming that’s the right move, and you just hope they get handled properly. They are typically all clear plastic.
  25. bloodinthesand


    Fucking ridiculous