New research has shown that it would take 136 billion standard A4 sheets of paper to print the internet, with Wikipedia needing 71 million pages alone. Evangeline Walker and George Harwood, students from the University of Leicester, carried out the research and their findings were recently published in their university journal.
In their report, Walker and Harwood discussed the growth of the internet since it was first introduced, stating, “despite only being 25 years old, the internet has grown so that in 2014, 40% of people in the world were using it. Its growth has been not only in the number of people utilising it but also the amount of information contained in pages within it.”
The two researchers based their findings on their estimation that there are 4.54 billion pages on the visible web and that on average each page would require around 30 sheets of paper to print. They estimated that if the entire internet were printed on paper, it would kill around 16 million trees, which is a surprisingly small amount of the 400 million trees that make up the Amazon rainforest alone.
“By making some assumptions about the size of the internet, how much paper can be gained per tree, and that all trees within the Amazon can be utilised for paper, it has been possible to determine that the printing of the non-explicit internet would require 0.002% of this rainforest,” Walker and Harwood’s report read.
“Whilst this is a very small percentage, combined with the numerous other uses for trees i.e. as a source of material for construction, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon is hardly surprising.”
Scientists recently expressed their concerns over the internet’s growth. It was recently revealed that the internet could be on the brink of collapse due to demand and may reach its limit in just eight years. Experts also predicted that, if usage rates continue, all of Britain’s power usage might be consumed by internet use in just 20 years.
Experts have said that “really radical ideas” are needed to tackle the problem and to prevent costs from dramatically increasing.