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Monday, January 12, 2009

Interesting News- Did you know that Googling Pollutes the Planet?

IT SEEMS YOU can't do anything nowadays without inadvertently contributing to your ever-growing, mutant-like black carbon footprint, and googling is no exception.

According to new research by Harvard University physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, every two Google searches performed generate about the same amount of noxious carbon dioxide as boiling water for a cuppa.

Apparently ye average innocuous search - ie "how big is my carbon footprint?" - produces 7g of CO2 whilst a boiling kettle generates about 15g. Don't even get us started on Googling WHILST drinking a cuppa.

According to Wissner-Gross "Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power". Shocka. But, admittedly, with well over 200 million internet searches a day, it's no wonder the concerned boffin found the need to state that, in his humble opinion, "a Google search has a definite environmental impact."

Of course, it's nothing new to claim the IT industry is polluting the planet. Greenpeace bangs on about it all the time, and even Gartner recently jumped on the organic bandwagon claiming the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world's evil airline industry, or some filthy two per cent.

So, how exactly does a quick search for "best celebrity arse of 2008" foul up the planet? Well, firstly, any search request gets sent to a plethora of servers, which compete to get you the answer quickest. This is purportedly a rather energy-consuming enterprise, as servers which hold billions and billions of web pages filled with inane content tend to require rather a lot of power.

Wissner-Gross reckons he's even managed to calculate the CO2 emissions caused by a single individual viewing a simple web page to about 0.02g of CO2 per second. And the physicist believes he can extrapolate that number for an individual viewing a complex, image heavy, multimedia page to 0.2g of CO2 a second.

So concerned is Wissner-Gross with the state of the planet, he's even set up his own energy consuming website ( for people to produce more CO2 checking how much CO2 they produce whilst wibbling away. The man's a genius.

Google's Senior Vice President of Operations, Urs Hölzle, was seemingly unimpressed by Wissner-Gross' report, however, claiming in a company blog that the actual cost of a search query was closer to one twenty-fifth of the carbon released when making a cup of tea, or 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide per search.

Hölzle let off steam claiming Google's commitment to invest in clean energy technology should also be taken into account, including's $45 million effort to "[cut] the energy consumed by computers in half by 2010 - reducing global CO2 emissions by 54 million tons per year."

Still, at least Google's big dirty hoof-prints seem less significant when compared to the seeming pointlessness of maintaining a Second Life avatar, which guzzles approximately 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or almost as much as an average Brazilian.

And if you think about it, if you weren't noodling about on the Internet for hours, you'd probably be watching TV or going on a long country drive, both of which would sully up the planet even more.

So, good god people, just google away

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Makes me think if I should even use google.