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The Energy Saved By Ditching DVDs Could Power 200,000 Homes 339

Posted by timothy
from the only-109-more-isolated-numbers-until-the-singularity dept.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The environmental benefits of streaming a movie (or downloading it) rather than purchasing a DVD are staggering, according to a new U.S. government study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. If all DVDs purchased in 2011 were streamed instead, the energy savings would have been enough to meet the electricity demands of roughly 200,000 households. It would have cut roughly 2 billion kilograms of carbon emissions. According to the study, published in Environmental Research Letters, even when you take into account cloud storage, data servers, the streaming device, streaming uses much less energy than purchasing a DVD. If, like me, you're thinking, 'who buys DVDs anymore, anyways?', the answer is 'a lot of people.'" The linked paper is all there, too — not just an abstract and a paywall.
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The Energy Saved By Ditching DVDs Could Power 200,000 Homes

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  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:31PM (#47122417) Journal

    Did they also calculate how much energy would be saved if we would not waste processor power on DRM decoding?

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:32PM (#47122423)

    >> If all DVDs purchased in 2011 were streamed instead, the energy savings would have been enough to meet the electricity demands of roughly 200,000 households.

    Or, if you're like my family, the energy "saved" from spinning up DVDs on two different TVs has now gone into a more powerful wireless router (to support better streaming), bigger TVs (bought with money saved from cancelling cable), a digital antenna booster (so we can watch HD network TV without cable), and personal tablets that none my three kids had in 2011.

  • False comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:33PM (#47122427)
    Apples and oranges comparison.

    .
    When I buy a DVD, I own that DVD. That is why I buy DVDs. I don't want some DRM server somewhere suddenly saying that I cannot stream a movie I purchased.

    Now if streaming allowed me to purchase and keep a copy free of DRM, then I'd be interested.

    But so long as there is DRM, I'll continue buying DVDs.

  • by PhotoJim (813785) <jim@@@photojim...ca> on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:34PM (#47122451) Homepage

    I still buy physical DVDs - primarily because they are passively archival and don't depend on me a) having connectivity or b) having my server nearby. I view programming at some locations (like my cottage) where it's easier to bring a few DVDs than it is to copy a bunch of data onto a hard disk and then connect a computer to the television.

    I also wonder if the energy consumption considers the issues of ramped-up Internet infrastructure and server capacity required to store, back up and stream the content. This isn't free and isn't emission-neutral. High-def (e.g. Blu-Ray) content is even moreso whereas the cost of a Blu-Ray disc versus DVD is actually almost trivial. Once you own the Blu-Ray player, you're done except for the marginal two or three dollar cost for the higher definition media.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:34PM (#47122453)

    That pirating movies has actually been helping the environment the whole time? I for one am glad keep up with my civic duty for a better tomorrow...

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:35PM (#47122467) Homepage

    As someone who has spent the last decade virtualizing anything with a power supply that wasn't critical, you would be astounded as to the savings from yes, *gasp* running apps in the 'cloud'.

    It just doesn't mean what YOU think it means.

    The cloud isn't just a hosted application that moves seamlessly around a cluster. It can be a head on a cluster, that hosts an application and save thousands of KW a year and you the end user wouldn't know the difference. It's a direct analog to the idea of ditching DVDs. Move the application where the backing resources can be shared, and managed remotely and you will save carbon.

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:42PM (#47122539)
    Since, on a global scale, 200,000 homes' use of energy is completely insignificant, I think we might want to focus the effort elsewhere.
  • by epyT-R (613989) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:46PM (#47122589)

    1. no control over purchase as it can be revoked at any time for any reason.
    2. even the best internet streams hitch, lag, and drop frames.
    3. complexity: the majority of nontechnical people understand the concept of placing a disk in a tray and hitting play.
    4. value proposition. I won't pay $20 for a movie I can't really own.

  • by cpghost (719344) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:50PM (#47122627) Homepage
    I'm still buying DVDs, because
    • they are a good archival media
    • they are multilingual
    • they play everywhere, thanks region-free DVD players
    • they are not DRM-infested like BluRay (thanks DeCSS!)
    • they are faster to get than to download, esp. box sets of series
    • they are always available, and can't be revoked or disabled by some anonymous entity
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:56PM (#47122679)

    When I buy a DVD, I own that DVD. That is why I buy DVDs.

    When I rent a DVD, I own that DVD. That is why I rent DVDs.

    When I illegally download a DVD, I own that DVD. That is why I illegally download DVDs.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:14PM (#47122869)

    That 50% assumption is stupid. You can't stream the food items or other things you buy while you're at that store. So you need to go to the store anyway, DVD or not.

  • by duke_cheetah2003 (862933) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:53PM (#47123271) Homepage

    Cloud computing is definitely cool and useful for many tasks. I've migrated all my home based server things to an EC2 instance and quite pleased with the results. I however would NEVER advocate ditching my home based General Purpose computer in exchange for a thin client and a cloud backed CPU.

    It just sets a bad precedent for one. I immediately think of bad things like the GP computer going byebye and everyone having to rent time from a cloud compute CPU to do anything useful. Not to mention the surveillance implications of having all your stuff only accessible by remote (meaning others can access it by remote as well.)

    Cloud computing has a place, but it is NOT a replacement for the home based General Purpose computer.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:25PM (#47123611) Homepage

    And streaming is stupid... Downloading movies would make a lot more sense than DVDs, but streaming is ridiculous...
    Most people would want to watch movies around the same time, so think of the crippling bandwidth requirements all at once. And what about those who can't get fast connections at home for whatever reason - streaming would be impractical, but downloading would usually still be quicker than a mail order dvd.

  • BS meter pegged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @06:07PM (#47124005)
    Looks like some special interests are trying to strike another blow against people actually owning the movies that they buy. Lets list some other benefits: You don't get to watch the disc again, or lend it to a friend. And if you do watch it again on-line, you can completely ignore any costs involved (because that's what the research did). You're not distracted by the extra content included on DVDs. The lower quality streaming video is perfectly fine for you. You're completely freed from the "right of first sale' and will never have to concern yourself with selling or trading old DVDs that you have. And those nice people at your ISP who have started capping your service and who will charge outrageous overages if you happen to exceed your monthly quota will gladly forgive your overage if you explain how you were downloading or streaming for the sake of the planet (wouldn't you, AT&T?)
  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @06:47PM (#47124343)

    1. 17 km to drive and purchase DVD? 50% of the trip is apportioned to the DVD transport to account for multiple purchases and errands per trip in the base-case? I doubt people are driving 10 miles just to purchase a DVD, or as only 50% of the reason to take the trip in the first place.

    2. Average disc lifetime 5 years? I still have 'The Matrix' that I got for free with my first DVD player back in 1999. None of my DVDs seem to really have a 'lifetime' that I can tell.

  • Re:Hard copy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Snowman (116231) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:21PM (#47124621) Homepage

    You joke, but I always wanted to know what happens when the cloud blows away? A hard copy will still play. My Blu-ray player has but does not require network access. I can play Blu-rays and DVDs during a cable outage. I can (legally) play games that do not phone home without net access.

    And that does not even get into the question of what happens when a cloud provider goes out of business or decides to end their service for whatever reason.

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