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Twitch and ecology: saving the planet at what cost?

By Thomas Costes – Posted on 08 Oct 2022 at 20:00

This weekend was the GP Explorer, a blessed event for fans of YouTube, Twitch and even motorsports. But a question came to me. How can we combine this type of event with environmental protection? How far are we willing to go to entertain ourselves when our backs are against the wall?

A fight that already dates back 30 years

We like to spend hours on Twitch or YouTube watching our favorite content, but are we really aware of the impact we have on the world around us? Entertainment is everywhere. We hear about air-conditioned stadiums in Qatar and Asian winter games in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, our French influencers are organizing events to protect against an unprecedented climate crisis. Entertainment yes, but sometimes, no matter how.

Since 1992, environmental protection has become the common cause of mankind. From Rio to Kyoto, we had this constant tendency to gather around tables in order to discuss. But only discuss, and therein lies the problem.

The Paris agreements were able to give a glimmer of hope, because all the countries have, it seems, made concessions. We remember these striking images where all the leaders stand up to applaud. We have only been alarmed since the latest IPCC reports in recent years about what lies ahead. As a reminder, in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, we should reduce our emissions by 80% by 2040. But a few years back, we weren’t saying anything about aberrant events that would be held 10 years later. Today, we may tend to ask ourselves too many questions. We also tend not to ask ourselves enough.

Video streaming has an impact on the planet

Twitch

When you watch video streaming, you pollute. In spite of you and indirectly, but you pollute. This video streaming is part of the so-called “digital” pollution. It alone represents 60% of data flows on the network. The think tank The Shift Project believes that this small part already represents 1% of global CO2 emissions. Obviously, this figure is provisional since it tends to increase in the years to come. Moreover, the big names in these services are still lagging behind on this subject: Amazon, Twitter or Netflix.

BUT Twitch is doing pretty well ! In a May 2021 report by the agency GreenspectTwitch was among the top-ranked social networks in terms of broadcasts with “only” 0.55 gEqCO2 / min against 2.63 gEqCO2 / min for Tik Tok for example. Verdict favor Twitch!

Twitch and ecology events, two compatible elements?

Twitch

Why are we watching a Formula 4 Grand Prix on Twitch? Because we like influencers? Because we love car racing? Because we have nothing to do? In a simplistic reasoning, we would say “cars pollute and so does video streaming”. But that raises more moral and philosophical questions. For my sporting pleasure, I love watching races with personalities I admire. At the time, we do not really ask ourselves the question of whether it is good or bad what we are doing. In itself it is not serious.

But when you look a little closer, Amazon is the parent company of Twitch. The company increased its plastic pollution by 29% between 2019 and 2020. We are talking about approximately 271,000,000 kilograms of plastic packaging that were produced by Amazon. We participate indirectly in the pollution of the American giant, and that we sometimes tend to forget.

At the same time, the economic situation means that we are facing a historic rise in the prices of raw materials, including oil and de facto gasoline. Some French people can no longer fill their tanks when they need them to go to work or simply to live. The F4 engines are about 2L per 100 km for a power of 160hp. That makes consumption at the end of the grand prize, but still less than all the trips of the F1 teams or than Bernard Arnault’s jet. But shouldn’t influencers set an example by offering more low-carbon events, even if it means alienating certain people and brands? Or do they have to respond to the demands and expectations of their communities no matter the cost? Do we have to accept everything in terms of entertainment?

Charitable events as outlets

Twitch

We agree to donate to environmental associations during the ZEvent. And we feel that we are doing a good deed. And that’s completely normal. It’s like a form of outlet for everyone. We give and behind we feel we have a form of credit by saying to ourselves “I did my part”. Behind, we move to watch car races on a platform belonging to one of the most polluting companies on the planet. We use bandwidth to watch our favorite creators, whose pipes are in the ocean and are helping to raise seabed temperatures. We know it that we reject, but we don’t really pay attention to it, me first.

I will be answered “yes, but it’s only once, it’s not going to change global warming”. I am aware of this and I am sometimes in favor of this kind of discourse. But let’s not fall into caricature. I’m not blameless, we’re not, they’re not and we know that.

Don’t blame influencers

We could find that paradoxical that committed influencers use a platform of one of the most polluting companies. We find these people in particular in the anti-capitalist movement. But to tell the truth, all is not black or white. We can’t blame them, because they don’t really have a choice. They have no other alternatives. Events like the ZEvent or the SpeedDons are the perfect example of this paradox. And yet, we still enjoy watching!

Should we review our way of having fun?

Twitch

Blaise Pascal wrote: “All the misfortune of men comes from a single thing, which is not knowing how to remain at rest in a room”. We do not know and cannot do without entertainment even when it has an impact on our planet. We have them everywhere in spite of ourselves. It is now part of our daily life. We see it on our phones, computers. We hear it via music or on the radio (for those who still listen to it). All this tends to shape our behavior and our way of seeing the world around us. Entertainment exists because we pay attention to it and cherish it. But what would we be without entertainment?

Far be it from me to accuse Squeezie or all the other influencers of not participating in the ecological fight at major events. I even applaud them, because they contribute on their modest scale to influence, to raise awareness of the world in which we live. Many are also very clear about their commitment to certain causes. They can deliver a speech to thousands of people and that’s why we call them “influencers”. However, sometimes you have to know how to maintain the balance. Do not say or do things that are too contradictory, have consistent speech and actions.

The problem is more of a philosophical and moral order and I therefore ask the question: should we limit our access to entertainment and in particular to Twitch to protect the planet even if it means doing without events like the GP Explorer?

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