Gay porn could be severely hurting the environment, causing high levels of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study done by French think tank The Shift Project.

High levels of carbon dioxide emissions are one of the leading causes of climate change – and hundreds of millions of tons of these emissions are caused by digital technology. Because ten hours of high definition footage uses more data than the whole text of the English language of Wikipedia, storing, processing, and streaming this data can cause a strain on global resources due to high electricity and energy use.

The Shift Project’s Climate Crisis: The Unsustainable Use of Online Video found that porn makes up 27 percent of all videos viewed online and emitted about 82 million tons of greenhouse gasses in 2018.

According to Pornhub, gay male porn makes up about 20 percent of the videos viewed, meaning that gay porn accounts for approximately 17 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. Lesbian porn, the largest category on the site, likely accounts for even more CO2.

Of course, porn isn’t the only culprit. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime emitted the same volume of carbon dioxide as the entire economy of Chile in 2019.

Authors advise consumers of this digital video content to be aware of their use and to adhere to “digital sobriety” by reducing the size and frequency of videos.

“From the standpoint of climate change and other planetary boundaries, it is not a question of being ‘for’ or ‘against’ pornography, telemedicine, Netflix, or emails: the challenge is to avoid a use deemed precious from being impaired by the excessive consumption of another use deemed less essential,” the authors write. “This makes it a societal choice, to be arbitrated collectively to avoid the imposition of constraints on our uses against our will and at our expense. In the 21st century, not choosing is no longer a viable option: are we ready for it?”

In order to help users reduce their consumption, The Shift Project provides three tools: an educational video, a guide to reducing the size of your videos, and a browser extension that makes the climate impact of web browsing visible to users.

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