Tim Kadlec recently wrote a great article on the ethics of web performance.
Here are some of my favorite quotes.
Poor performance can, and does, lead to exclusion. This point is extremely well documented by now, but warrants repeating. Sites that use an excess of resources, whether on the network or on the device, don’t just cause slow experiences, but can leave entire groups of people out…
On the environmental impact of large sites and apps:
Let’s say just 2 billion people (somewhere around 4 billion are connected to the internet) view 5 pages at that weight in a day (surveys from 2010 showed the number to be around 10 sites on any given day, so I’m being overly safe here). That would be about 1,500,000 GB of data transferred on a single day. Based on the 5 kWh energy consumption estimate, we’re looking at spending 17.6 million kWh of energy to use the web every single day.
On why this keeps happening:
Here’s the thing. I have never in my career met a single person who set out to make a site perform poorly. Not once. People want to do good work. But a lot of folks are in situations where that’s very difficult.
Go read Tim’s whole article. It’s awesome!