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November 12, 2020
Xbox, Playstation, and global energy inequality
By Todd Moss

Americans take for granted 24/7 internet, cloud data storage, and on-demand air conditioning, all powered by abundant electricity. During the pandemic, many are taking solace in Netflix, Zoom, Call of Duty, Animal Crossing, or Among Us — again requiring lots more electricity around the clock. Meanwhile, nearly half of humanity still lives without reliable power.

An eye-opening new paper, highlighted in Wired, now estimates that the total energy consumption of online gaming is exploding — driven by higher resolution, streaming, and virtual reality. At a whopping 34 terawatt hours (!) each year, American gamers are now using more electricity via their Xboxes, Playstations, and other consoles than countries use for their entire economies, including some big ones like Nigeria (200 million+ people), Myanmar (50 million+), and Ethiopia (100 million+).

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