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Porn’s Carbon Footprint Is Not Harming Earth

by | Dec 14, 2017 | 2 comments

Anti-Porn Propaganda Persists – Porn Now Ruining Planet

False Claims About Streaming Porn’s Carbon Footprint

The Size of Your Porn’s Carbon Footprint…

Internet porn’s carbon footprint is the latest target of self-proclaimed “anti-pornography advocates”…

porn's carbon footprint

Environmental Cost of Internet Porn's Carbon Footprint

So many people watch porn online that the industry’s carbon footprint might be worse now that it was in the days of DVDs and magazines.

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.

Since the turn of the century, the pornography industry has experienced two intense hikes in popularity. In the early 2000s, broadband enabled higher download speeds. Then, in 2008, the advent of so-called tube sites allowed users to watch clips for free, like people watch videos on YouTube.

Source: The Environmental Cost of Internet Porn – The Atlantic

It seems anti-porn crusaders will go to any length for their goals, their current target is the size of streaming porn’s carbon footprint.

I am an unashamed tree hugger who spent 10 years as an activist fighting for social justice and environmental issues. You’ll find no greater true-believer in protecting the environment and fighting climate change. I read the books that prompted Al Gore’s modern crusade against climate change long before our former Vice-President ever discovered their message. I’ve put my body on the line at both organized, and disorganized, protests.

And, I have to say that self-appointed anti-porn advocates environmental arguments are complete bull. I’ll get to the logic of that statement in a moment, first let me get on my soapbox.

Adult Entertainment/Education Under Siege

Adult entertainment of all kinds, including humble sex blogs like you are reading, are under attack. Moralistic haters of adult content will go to great lengths to distort pornography’s impact on society. Now, they are attempting to take aim at it’s supposed environmental impact too.

This is the same judgemental moralism that has brought about the censorship of the sex-blogging community. Tumblr’s attacks on all adult material have been documented here and at Eros Blog.

Twitter’s policy of “shadowbanning” individuals who tweet sexual material has led to the Share Our Shit Saturday movement. Started by Eros Blog and Girl on the Net, #SoSS has brought together sex bloggers from around the globe to promote each other’s posts.

word cloud censorship #SoSS

Censorship has reared its ugly head in a number of nasty ways that seem to be getting worse and worse.

Facebook has always been a bit difficult, but for a long time they didn’t seek out posts to censor, they only did it when a post was reported. I’m told that has now changed, and along with their invasive face recognition technology, their algorithms look for nipples and bare breasts. I’ve also seen posts deleted that advocated for more respect for transexuals, under the guise that the using word “tranny” was hate speech.

Patreon also recently made changes to their policy that will hurt writers on adult themes who were able to use that medium as a means of financial support. Tumbler has made sexual material invisible to search engines. Pinterest’s policies seem to be unevenly enforced, but (in general) erotic material is unwelcome there too.

Google’s own search algorithms even penalize people who have pop-ups upon entry to a blog warning for NSFW content. That may not be deliberately aimed at blogs with sexual material, as it seems google’s position is that instant popups are less than ideal for user experience. But it sure works to penalize folks trying to notify the world of their adult content…

Fetlife has had serious problems with the banks who processed contributions from folks who wished to support the site. In essence, the banks wished to control Fetlife’s content in return for the right to have credit card contributions processed.

A number of individuals vending BDSM products have had PayPal accounts suspended. In some cases, they had significant balances that were “frozen” while they faced the specter of Animal House style ‘double secret probation’.

No matter how many examples are provided, the point remains the same. The winds of change seem to have turned.

I’m a little reminded of the play/movie Cabaret. (Probably because of something I”m writing.) Everything’s beautiful in the beginning, even the orchestra. Not so much at the end.

It’s a dark wind that’s blowing. It seems society is regressing in a number of important ways, our sexual freedoms and freedom of expression just being two of the examples.

This is a big issue, a critically important issue. I honestly believe that there’s a significant element within a good number of world governments that would enjoy nothing more than to silence all voices willing to embrace our sexual beings, to quiet anyone who will speak about human sexuality in all its wonderful guises.

So, there’s a lot at stake! I’m so very happy to see May (among others) tackling this issue.

Michael Samadhi

Comment on May More's Blog, If Sex Matters

Prejudicial Language & Bad Logic

To get back to The Atlantic‘s article on porn’s carbon footprint, it’s yet another sign that #pornocalypse times have arrived.

I’ve always respected The Atlantic – the source of the article quoted at the top of this post – as a left-leaning news source. Perhaps it’s not everyone’s first choice in news, but it’s been a solid top-ten source for me going back several years.

Being attacked by right-wing Christians did not bother me. Being attacked by liberal feminists did.

Hugh Hefner

The histrionic tone, inflammatory language, not to mention the seething contempt this article shows for all forms of adult entertainment may turn me away from that publication. As we’ve seen from past experience, an attack on porn is an attack on sex bloggers. As far as I’m concerned, any attack on sex bloggers is also an attack on the very concept of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Perhaps others may find my interpretation of the article’s tone to also be extreme, but it sure feels like an outright attack on freedom of expression. It’s the kind of thing I expect from the “right wing – moral majority – so-called conservative – call themselves Christians” types. It’s a hack job, not something I expect from The Atlantic.

Like Hugh Hefner said, being attacked by right-wing Christians is expected. But being attacked by folk like liberal feminists is really bothersome.

Some Other Voices on Censorship and Share Our Shit Saturday #SoSS

“I don’t even know what fraction of the internet is porn,” he says. “And without data, it’s hard to say anything sensible.”

Koomey warns that there are simply too many variables to be considered.

Jon Koomey

Data Scientist, quoted by The Atlantic

Assumptions on Porn’s Carbon Footprint

Jon Koomey’s quote pretty well sums up the validity of the rest of the suppositions made in Environmental Cost of Internet Porn’s Carbon Footprint by The Atlantic. There’s no real science, no verifiable statistics being used.

To my eye, it’s a pure propaganda piece. Nothing but speculation by people admittedly prejudiced against anything remotely associated with their own personal definition of pornography.

It all starts with the poor assumption that electricity used by streaming porn wouldn’t be used anyway streaming other entertainment. Even if the internet were scrubbed of adult content tomorrow, the energy footprint used by streaming video would not likely to decrease. People would just stream more Netflix and YouTube. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find the holes in that logic.

From there, the article progresses to mention “rabid” online consumption of pornography. To be quite literal, I’m sure no one reading this has rabies. I’m sorry if my being literal is over the top.

I’ll openly admit that the anti-porn rhetoric of the article offends me greatly. My anger is, perhaps, almost rabid. But, not quite.

Self-appointed anti-porn porn advocate, Gail Dines, has the most strident voice in the piece, besides the article’s author.  That’s to be expected, considering her pre-existing prejudices against adult entertainment.

Sociologist Chauntelle Tibbals comes off as a voice of reason, with her belief that pornography has some educational value.

She has qualms about porn’s exploitative side, which I share. If the article had featured more of Tibbals’ insights, it might have approached a truly balanced view on this topic.

Bad Science on Porn’s Carbon Footprint

The article concludes with the voice of Nathan Ensmenger, Associate Professor in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University.

I don’t dispute Ensmenger’s expertise on the environmental impact of computers and video streaming. I’d be a fool to argue those kinds of details with an acknowledged expert in his field. But, I will gladly dispute his assumptions about porn’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. As I said earlier, people will stream video whether pornography is available, or not. I also find the bit about tracking cookies using “considerable amounts of energy” to also be over-reach, but that’s perhaps the least offensive assumption Ensmenger makes.

Any assumption that porn streaming adds to the overall volume of video streamed by the public seems to be pure supposition. Lacking real statistics, any statement an expert, like an Associate Professor at Indiana University, might make about porn’s carbon footprint is simply bad science. His unscientific speculation makes no sense unless Professor Ensmenger has some sort of preexisting prejudice against pornography.

Porn’s Big Carbon Footprint is Propaganda

Back when I was in High School, a wonderful literature and writing teacher introduced my class to the Propaganda Game. I’ll call him Mr. S. (No relation to the kink-leather store of that name.) We spent over a month playing the game, learning the nuances of propaganda, learning how to use it ourselves.

Our professor had a deep understanding of propaganda, so we learned the topic well. When he left teaching, he actually went to work for an advertising agency. At its heart, advertising is built on one form of propaganda or another. I’m sure he was very good at his work there too.

I took five full years of classes from Mr. S, between grades 7-11, so it’s safe to say he had a significant influence on the man I grew into. And, it’s safe to say this particular apple didn’t fall far from his tree. I’m told I was very good at my work in politics, which itself is a world wrapped in propaganda.

Now, you should know the biggest takeaway from our class effort was the ability to recognize propaganda in its many forms. It’s a more useful skill than the ability to use propaganda, to be honest. My nose is quite sensitive to the odor of bullshit, and it’s clear to me this article reaks.

As much as I’m bothered by the profusion of labeling articles we disagree with as fake news, this seems to be a poster child for that term. Here, we’ve got pre-existing prejudice followed by bad science. It’s a propaganda piece that does nothing to inform, and everything to try to sway the reader towards its anti-porn message.

About The Author

Michael Samadhi

Michael Samadhi - Joy of Kink Editor - author, lifestyle dominant, sex blogger, sex educator, photographer, artist, pansexual, sapiosexual, polyamorist, audiophile, historian, pagan/Buddhist, former political activist, and community organizer. I tied up a girlfriend (consensually) the first time back in 1980, and it's been a hell of a ride ever since.

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[…] of “when they do these things, I’m relieved that I don’t have to”, Michael Samadhi has extensively debunked a stupid anti-porn article in The Atlantic, from whom we usually expect better. (I’m so old I […]

May More

Fantastic writing as usual – you explain everything so clearly – The move to a global type government (which we are experiencing) means such propaganda as this will really hit home with the people, they are willing to believe anything in the name of saving the environment or protecting the kids, and the last thing they will do is check the facts – kids need to be taught critical thinking again and most adults seem to portray some degree of cognitive disonance… – many thanks for my mention too Michael 😉

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