Planes and the internet emit similar amounts of carbon.
I travel a lot. Often by airplanes. That puts me at the receiving end of a fair amount of jokes regarding pollution. Planes pollute a lot, is the mantra.
So does the internet. According to the Vancouver Sun, each web search cause between 1 and 10 grams of carbon to enter the athmosphere. Perhaps not a lot on its own, but through billions and billions of searches, facebook updates, page impressions, video streams and sent emails a day, that adds up. The internet now uses between 2 and 3 percent of the world's electricity, the same as the aviation industry.
Planes do not pollute more just because you can actually see the exhaust on the sky. Luckily both the IT and the aviation industry spend a lot of resources on improvements in order to become greener.
Of course, this doesn't let me off the hook. I fly a lot and I use the Internet a lot, making me a double perpetrator. I have even used the internet while flying, but at least I didn't have a beef sandwich in the air. Meat production is worse than flying and the internet combined. It accounts for almost a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.