Firefox Eco-Mode Brainstorming: How can the internet tackle the climate emergency

This session is facilitated by Michelle Thorne

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About this session

We’re in the midst of a climate emergency. The internet contributes 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions. Can we create an eco-mode for Firefox that empowers users to reduce emissions and advocate for a more sustainable internet? What else could the open internet do for the planet? This session invites technologists, designers, climate activists and citizens who care about the internet and the planet to dream and develop this idea and even more ambitious ones together.

Goals of this session

Through some prepared materials and a peer knowledge exchange, participants will learn more about the internet’s contribution to the climate emergency. Participants will then generate and engage with ideas for climate action with the browser, sharing their expertise, insights and suggestions in an interactive format. We’ll conclude with a structured documentation of the brainstorm and ways to continue developing and discussing the ideas.

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Firefox Eco-Mode Brainstorming: How can the internet tackle the climate emergency

In this Mozfest 2019 session, we aimed to generate 100 ideas for what the internet could do to tackle the climate emergency. An eco-mode for Firefox was an anchor in our imagination, but wild and weird ideas from further afar were very welcome!

These notes will contribute to an exploration about if and how we could make an eco-mode for Firefox and what other things the tech sector could do.

Many thanks to all the participants for such a positive and generous session!

Meta mindsets

  • Reverse the pursuit for growth
  • Future proofing: Space Internet! Energy and bandwidth are precious. Efficiency is more important than abundance. Interplanetary internet. EHTP HSML.
  • Meta: quantify environmental impact of different measures
  • How much does a bit cost?
  • Transparency: the more we know, the more we can make better choices

Manufacturing, hardware and recycling

  • Manufacturing phase: gather data about environmental cost hotspots
  • Green manufacturer ratings
  • Recycling and reusing all computer components
  • Ecowires: what does complete wireless and hardware cost?
  • H2O: how much water is used in the production of hardware
  • How does the hardware get sourced? Fairphone!
  • Use feature phones and other developing country technology
  • Big tech: who is really sourcing and who should be more accountable?
  • Hardware recycling
  • Support for old hardware / BL compatibility
  • Transparency in production and usage

Hosting and data centers

  • AWS: find the geographical location of servers
  • Geo-IP: client can find IP of servers which hosts
  • Eco-hosting
  • Move hosting to areas with renewable energy—in real time
  • Green Dat Site (also decentralized!): Dat hosting service built into Firefox. Guaranteed green hosting.
  • AWS, Google, FB: quarterly report on cloud service providers
  • Green host

Cache, routing and decentralized prototcols

  • Cache: is there a caching proxy
  • Decentralization
  • Caching: make data local
  • Compression
  • Download/cache mops etc
  • Eco-routes: impact of choice
  • Cache more static sites.
  • Data cache planning
  • How do we analyze the future
  • Firefox green CDN cache (Opera does this in Africa)
  • Gamify visiting small sites
  • Edge caching of content
  • Edge computation to reduce computation in network centers
  • E-waste commons (localized)
  • Openflow: more even network energy distribution
  • Local browsing: intelligent routing
  • Decentralized internet (to reduce routing costs)
  • Punish energy consuming websites

Measurements and usage data

  • Time is up: Calculate the time to use tech to minimize footprint
  • Energy star rating for software
  • Daily browser carbon budget
  • Data diet. Group carbon loss plan? Peer pressure.
  • Carbon budget: Switch to low bandwidth.
  • Ecosia reverse. “You saved 3 trees worth of CO2 from loading ads.”
  • Server room power? During the night? AC?
  • Power consumption statistics
  • Device durability and longevity
  • Footprint of each website
  • Save your data for future enjoyment: plain text in the morning, Netflix at night.
  • Eco budget timer

Web development and developer tools

  • carbon.txt: headers in carbon.txt
  • Static websites
  • Is a website dynamically generated?
  • Produce less data. Use less energy.
  • Carbon tab in inspector
  • Greenhint: provide service for audit and limiting (like Lightbeam)
  • Machine learning to suggest green practices
  • Dark mode stylesheet override
  • Energy rating for libraries and frontends
  • Stack of energy saving tech
  • Archive Wayback changes API
  • Freeze-mode for website developers (freeze SS when tab in background).
  • Analysis tools
  • Scripts to modify social sites
  • Static site CMS

Browsing

  • Addon: Addon which slows down site when user is using carbon-intensive websites
  • Reducing file size
  • Internet minimalism: static sites
  • Lazy loading
  • Tab sleeper
  • Processor lock
  • Time sessions in browser
  • Firewall for background requests
  • Slow down websites (penalty or tax)
  • Browser remembers stuff. Learn not to keep going back.
  • Eco-mode site usage tracker: time/CO2/data
  • Firefox Geolocation: to see how green. Use geolocation in the place you browse from
  • Request by default mini resources
  • Show site meter over time: This site is 70% bigger than other sites.
  • Slow load of tab on heavy sites, incentivize small sites
  • Offset the usage to be more ecological
  • Browser shut-down when energy limit is up
  • Browser warning if browsing website is not on green energy
  • If you are browsing a website that is not green, slow down speed by 10.
  • Compare power consumption and carbon footprint from browsing with peers
  • Encourage browsing locally. Option to only search local sites.
  • Plant a tree per million request.
  • Browser extension to show countries of origin
  • Greenbeam!
  • Biking browser

Media

  • Request skinny media by default
  • Strip ads, images, videos, minimal media
  • HTML4: media mode override
  • Hide images and styles

Ad block

  • Eco Ad Block: Don’t buy this!
  • Block ads!
  • Aggressive filter on ads. Ad track savings measured in trees
  • Reverse Ecosia: “You saved 10 trees by not loading these ads!”

UX and design

  • Reverse attention economy. Less sticky.
  • health labels: log off!
  • Surface data from browsers
  • Low alerts: don’t notify me all the time
  • A mindfulness display on usage
  • Gamify an ecological browsing experience. Set targets.
  • New tab eco advice checklist
  • Make Amazon black and white to reduce appeal

Professional education and practices

  • education and developer skills
  • Web console hints for devs re energy consumption

Certifications and audits

  • Carbon Certificate: signed certificates by carbon consultancy
  • carbon.txt: show credentials on site and can audit
  • Internet health monitor
  • Offset browsing energy consumption
  • Eco audits
  • Ecology badge (like Privacy Badge)

Consumer choices

  • My preferences for brands etc
  • My eco-concern preferences
  • Eco Reviews
  • Green product preferences
  • “Do not shop!” Alternatives to what you had chosen
  • Green product recommendations
  • How much CO2 does a product produce?
  • Enforce a 48 hour delay before online orders are processed
  • Plugins to tell your eco footprint
  • Reminders: environmental voice assistant reminders
  • Ecological trips for browser user

Advocacy

  • How do we make this visible? Messages from people impacted by climate change
  • Eco mode raises money for good causes
  • Countdown indicator: 837 dates before irreversible climate change. Act!
  • “We care!” Firefox users care
  • Connect to network of environmental orgs
  • International connectivity: making it all easier
  • Conscious Consumers: eco-mode offer partnerships
  • Users as a constituency: eco-mode unionization

Get Involved!

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