You thought you were safe when you bought that shiny new metal straw. You thought you were safe when you tweeted that trending hashtag. You thought you were safe when you recycled that cardboard box last night.
You thought wrong.
As it turns out, every click you make on streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and Soundcloud has a profound impact on our environment.
In a report published by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oslo, it was found that while plastic pollution from vinyl and other formats have decreased, the carbon emissions from streaming services dramatically supersedes any other point in history.
“It is possible to demonstrate this by translating the production of plastics and the generation of electricity (for storing and transmitting digital audio files) into greenhouse gas equivalents (GHGs),” according to the report. “The research shows GHGs of 140 million kilograms in 1977, 136 million kilograms in 1988, and 157 million in 2000. But by 2016 the generation of GHGs by storing and transmitting digital files for those listening to music online is estimated to be between 200 million kilograms and over 350 million kilograms in the US alone.”
It is well known that an excess amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere cause adverse effects for the planet. It is the seals, however, that seem to be handling much of the globe’s atmospheric changes the worst.
The National Marine Life Center (NMLC) published an article on their website last year detailing the effects of climate change on the seal population. In the piece, the NMLC explains that rising global temperatures instigated by greenhouse gas emissions cause Arctic ice melting, which is where many seals mate, rest and give birth to their offspring. Furthermore, the ice serves as a habitat for many smaller species, such as algae, krill, and plankton. Those animals form the foundation of the marine food web, which is where seals get their food and nutrients.
Not every streaming service is to blame, however. In fact, there are many companies, such as Apple, who are working hard to preserve and protect the environment.
So, who are the culprits here?
Three big names immediately come to mind: SoundCloud, Spotify, and Netflix.
Every year, Greenpeace publishes the #clickclean report, where the organization breaks down the climate and sustainability policies of the largest streaming services around the world. In their latest report, SoundCloud received an F, while Netflix and Spotify received D’s.
According to the Greenpeace ratings, all three companies received F’s in the categories of energy transparency, advocacy, and renewable energy commitment and siting policy.
At your next party, consider ditching Spotify and Soundcloud for Apple Music. It’ll do just that much more to help save the seals.
Matthew Geiger is a freshman studying economics at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those ofThe Post. Want to talk to Matthew? Tweet him @Mattg444.