Dear EarthTalk: A friend’s dad said it was such a shame that video gaming causes so much global warming, but I don’t see the connection.
The connection between video gaming and global warming is mostly about energy use. In short, the huge growth in gaming, and the inefficiency of the consoles from the major manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony, has led to a surge in electricity demand associated with kids’ enjoyment of Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox and other popular gaming platforms.
The first video games came out in the 1950s, but their popularity has increased exponentially since then with the advent of better computer graphics and processing. What’s more, when technology in recent years enabled mobile gaming to be set in motion, the industry’s potential skyrocketed. In 2018, the revenue for gaming products in the United States was $18.4 billion; industry analysts expect the figure to be closer to $230 billion a year by 2022.
But this popularity doesn’t come without an environmental price.
For starters, the mass production of boxed video games — the kind that come on CDs or DVDs and that you load into your computer or console — generates tons of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. Researchers have found that ~0.39 kilograms of carbon dioxide are released into surrounding airspace with the production of each single boxed game. While less than half a kilogram of pollution doesn’t seem like much, it adds up when you figure in how many individual games are produced. In the last year alone, the production of just one popular new Xbox and PlayStation game, FIFA 20, led to the emission of almost 600,000 kilograms of CO2, roughly equivalent to the energy needed to run 100 cars for a year.
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