andrew schneider investigates

January 12, 2009

Brits say Google searching can harm environment

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Random observations — Andrew Schneider @ 10:55

Here’s a strange one that I want to share.

Yesterday, The Sunday Times of London reported that performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.

The paper reports that physicist Alex Wissner-Gross determined that while millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7 grams of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15 grams.

Wissner-Gross, is a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon., said Jonathan Leake and Richard Woods, the two reporters of The Times’ story.

“Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power,” they reported.

Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint and it also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centers, the researcher said.

However, with more than 200 million Internet searches estimated globally each day, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern, he said.

When you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips”, your request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other, reports the online report from the UK.

The query may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. Google has servers in the US, Europe, Japan and China.

“Google are very efficient but their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy,” he said.

But Google told the reporters: “We are among the most efficient of all Internet search providers.”

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