The world is burning.

I like efficiency and I believe everybody likes it too, even though we do not always demand for it. In general. When traveling, buying, even eating I want to optimize time and resources in the broader sense. In other words save my energy. Sounds reasonable, huh? Every time I have to fill some paper form I hate it, because I love technology. It seems like everything looks better in the digital world, right? Moreover we know that papers means less trees (and everybody loves trees) even though we love using our job's printers. So on the contrary I always prefer digital things: apps for everyone. At first glance the digital world looks so attractive, efficient, faster, and in different flavours and colours.

This idea has sounded nice in my mind for long time...until a few months ago.

Now let's take a break to breath. We are on the top of a hill staring at the ocean and it looks quite nice. If the end of the world has began, it has not dropped by here.

Norway • Preikestolen • 2018

Now, move your direction and imagine you are standing somewhere in California in August 2020, say Napa. It is hot, isn't it?

I don't wanna be some sort of dramatic, but the world is dying and Software Industry is guilty too.

🤚 So let's start from the beginning. Every single entity, object, thing uses energy in this planet. To live, to move, to grow up, to exist. How much and at what cost it is what matters.

Just because technology is doing well a few things doesn't mean it is doing efficiently.

Back to the digital world. What do we really know about energy efficiency behind our favourites apps? Payments, Social, Banking, Blogging, Email and so many others. I dunno about you but me, ZERO. Rarely we think about how much energy is my lovely foody picture on Instagram consuming under the wood. Your digital actions are traveling around the globe through wires, are processed somewhere and are replicated (most likely) in others (and yes, even my action of writing right now is travelling long away). And here it is where your carbon footprint comes to place.

It is strange the way we live. Most of the time we support climate change strikes, we hate Trump (verified), we love Greta (verified), but we rarely look around us, ourselves, our actions. We only do it if this affects directly our pockets, our routine, our life. Well, it is affecting us but maybe we choose to close our eyes and ears: electricity outages, wildfires, even killed by polar bears. I think it is affecting us, huh?

Some time ago I attended two days of JFokus Conference in Stockholm and I had one of those moments of "oh f**k!" almost at the end of the last day. The conference's focus was entirely performance in general around Java stack (or at least the talks I attended). But it was during the last talk when a Software Engineer from Twitter blew my mind with his slides.

In Software Engineering there is an interesting topic which most of you know: the Big O notation. This is used quite commonly in job interviews and it is a way to describe an algorithm's performance in terms of time/space complexity according to its growth rates. But let's be honest once: How many times has the business punched you in the face to deliver features faster? Along the way developers adopt better practices, write better code. That's true. But code is not everything. How to keep efficiency when you deal with legacy systems where more than 20 developers have written code following different approaches, learning paths?. The code is not everything. The code is not enough. Whenever we need more memory we change the instance type in our favourite cloud provider, as if we were going shopping with our parent's credit card. Chris said in that talk "Rarely anyone ever stops and thinks about performance as a whole".

How wasteful is the software industry?.

So I started to dig deeper in articles, papers, follow environmentalist folks, look for tech solution and initiatives to collaborate. But it is dangerous. The more you learn, the more you realize how vulnerable the planet is.

True Story

There are uncountable resources to be aware of with numbers out there. Let's share some and  put them in perspective. I would like to introduce some equivalency. First of all we should know that there are so many ways to affect negatively the planet. For the sake of my catharsis I would like to introduce the following equivalency:

1 kWh = 0.0007 metric tons of CO2

kWh = Kilowatt/hour of electricity
CO2 = Carbon Dioxide

Source: EPA (2019) AVERT, U.S. national weighted average CO2 marginal emission rate, year 2018 data.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

* This is an estimation because the real calculation is pretty much tied to the electricity network of the place you want to measure and many other factors. But it is a good approach though.

The energy consumption of computer will vary because there are so many different hardware configurations. Common ranges is in the 15-300 watt per hour range.

How much energy is your computer consuming in a typical daily work?

Internet and information industry is growing faster and lead to an explosion in energy use:

Numbers from Digital Information World source

  • More than 70 billion kilowatt-hours a year are required to run the internet
  • 36% of energy is consumed by communication networks, 30% by data centers, and 34% by computers
  • The energy required by digital devices is much more (7%) than the global energy consumption all over the world (3%)
  • Production and operation of ICT will rise to about 21% in 2030
  • There are about 509,147 data centers that are 26.6 million square meters with 430 hyperscale data-centers
  • There are about 8,918,157,500 active mobile devices consuming about 2 kWh/year energy
  • Google only consumes about 0.013% of the world’s energy
  • The energy consumption by users is about 55% and 45% by manufacturers
  • There are about 20% phone users, 19% data centers, and 16% networks consuming energy
  • Computer manufacturing takes about 17% energy, TVs take 11%, smartphones take 11% and others take 6%
  • About 0.0003 kWh is consumed while charging mobile over USB for 7 minutes
  • Visiting Amazon consumes 0.0003 kWh, streaming 5 MB MP3 song takes 0.025 kWh, watching 5 minutes YouTube video takes 0.065 kWh, streaming 3 GB movie takes 14.65 kWh, and online video game takes about 78.13 kWh
  • Bitcoin takes about 20 TWh energy per year with aluminum consuming more energy as compared to other cryptocurrencies

Long story short, human activity emits CO2, high level of this gas in our atmosphere is changing the earth’s climate....and that is bad. You can read part of the story here.

As I said before, apps run because some nice (shy and bad) code is running in servers, which are somewhere in rooms called data centers, where in order to be able to keep your social timeline up to date are built with the complex equipments which need high amount of energy to work.

According to a study from Procedia Environmental Sciences, 48% of the power in a datacenter goes to equipment such as servers and racks, 33% to HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), 8% to UPS (uninterrupted power supply) losses, 3% to lighting, and 10% to everything else.
Source: Communications of the ACM • Power to the People

Do you like mining Bitcoins? Really?

From Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index:

What are the big fishes doing?

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have been doing different things to be carbon-neutral and they aim to decarbonize completely in the coming years. Of course they are responsible for the biggest part of the cake. I strongly recommend reading the last updates in this topic from them.

From Google Sustainability:

The virtual world is built on physical infrastructure. Every search that gets submitted, email sent, page served, comment posted, and video loaded passes through data centers that can be larger than a football field. Those thousands of racks of humming servers use vast amounts of energy; together, all existing data centers use roughly 2% of the world’s electricity, and if left unchecked, this energy demand could grow as rapidly as Internet use. So making data centers run as efficiently as possible is a very big deal.

Challenges ahead (in Software Industry)

SMART (and green) DESIGN: Fewer machines and less electricity

As I see it in the software industry there are lots of challenges which go from how a solution is designed until it is running in Production.

  • Improve the code (better algorithms, is it Sci-fi?).
  • Fight harder against legacy systems.
  • Improve code review (surely there is room for improvements).
  • Know your apps and the company behind.
  • Demand for numbers visibility in your company (Cloud energy Consumption, Teams, external services, etc.)
  • Improve your Google Search and find out your carbon footprint of your searches.
  • Energy consumption must be another metric in your business dashboard.
  • Be efficient on the cloud: instances types, database, lambdas, logging, etc.
  • Reduce compilation time.
  • Reduce building time.
  • Reduce startup time.
  • Be aware. 🧐

What (easy) actions can we take?

  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists we no longer read
  • Tune spam rules
  • Avoid sending useless messages
  • Stop reading your emails continuously!
  • You don't need 4.392.710.437 browser tabs open at the same time, come on!

And many other interesting things here.


In these uncertain times, there is a temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement.

The CO2 emission along the history and a clear pattern in around some of biggest events which change the world.

IEA, Global energy-related CO2 emissions, 1900-2020, IEA, Paris

Scary sites (not for anxious people)

There are a few sites to explore which make you be really scared about:

You can read more about here: Every Google search results in CO2 emissions. This real-time data viz shows how much


We can keep coding, designing, doing tech stuff and still ignoring this problem. We may leave this world with a thousand of good projects, bugs and fixes. Or we can do more and also leave a legacy with incredible stories about how to reshape the planet.

Again, I don't wanna be dramatic here. It is clear there is a problem (a big one) and certain part of the humans agree on that. There are thousands of different areas to improve. Many of those are working right in order to get better. I have not heard big things in the Software Industry. From top to bottom we should be creative enough to approach this crisis.

Are you Developer?, Product Manager?, Lead? CEO? Start with your day, find the way to scale your activity to thousands like you. Multiply the factor. Something should sound wrong and another thing should be attractive and encourage you to change. Think about the impact of our actions, our activities.
There is a huge amount of knowledge out there called Internet. Use it to learn and improve yourself and your environment. Stop poisoning your body with useless content.

I know it may sound idealistic, I am not saying "stop using apps, stop taking pictures of your food, I am just trying to voice my current feelings and thoughts: we can do more and better.


International Energy Agency

The global energy consumption of information technologies infographic

The carbon cost of an email

Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index

Bitcoin energy use

Greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator

Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator - Calculations and References

The Impact of Source Code in Software on Power Consumption

Profiling Software for Energy Consumption

Our World in Data

CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Real Time World Statistics

How much carbon is your server emitting?

Power to the People

How Much Energy Do Data Centers Really Use?

Green Computing in Communication Networks

How is your website impacting the planet?

What's CO2?