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The environmental impact of Google searches
encyclo




msg:3823921
 1:56 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches [technology.timesonline.co.uk]
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, according to new research.

While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. "Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power," said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. "A Google search has a definite environmental impact."

 

lgn1




msg:3823956
 3:28 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

If we didn't have search engines, think of the amount of gas would be used, driving down to the local library.

Or if you are looking to buy something, ecommerce is enviromentally friendly. That UPS truck is driving by your house anyways, you might as well make another stop on his route rather than making a trip to the store, or worse go comparison shopping with the car.

Also, I suspect those numbers, 7 grams of CO2 per search are way out to lunch. Without power comsumption numbers from google, that physicist is just urinating in the wind.

I'm sure Google knows how to do load balancing, and most data centers are working at a good capacity.

piatkow




msg:3824042
 8:04 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I guess that is power used by your PC, your ISP, your telco and Google while assuming that all are using non-renewable sources. Probably without any allowance for the fact that most of that power will be consumed anyway to keep the network running regardless of traffic.

anallawalla




msg:3824126
 10:03 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can recall the pre-Internet days. I did not drive to the library every time I was curious. I asked friends, read newspapers, books, magazines, watched TV or listened to the radio. My car used leaded petrol and didn't have emission controls. The list goes on and on. At least we are better aware of the environment than we were.

g1smd




msg:3824135
 10:43 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

An extra 4 billion people, an extra 2 billion cars, and an extra 20 billion electrical appliances, compared to a century ago, has no effect on the world?

Inconceivable.

skipfactor




msg:3824163
 11:48 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

"New - buy carbon credits for your Google searches!"

Syzygy




msg:3824221
 2:12 am on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

...searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea... a typical search generates about 7g of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15g.

Citations please...

engine




msg:3824449
 11:51 am on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google responds

Powering a Google search [googleblog.blogspot.com]
Recently, though, others have used much higher estimates, claiming that a typical search uses "half the energy as boiling a kettle of water" and produces 7 grams of CO2. We thought it would be helpful to explain why this number is *many* times too high. Google is fast a typical search returns results in less than 0.2 seconds. Queries vary in degree of difficulty, but for the average query, the servers it touches each work on it for just a few thousandths of a second. Together with other work performed before your search even starts (such as building the search index) this amounts to 0.0003 kWh of energy per search, or 1 kJ. For comparison, the average adult needs about 8000 kJ a day of energy from food, so a Google search uses just about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds.

qeo50000




msg:3824458
 12:14 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

google just think about his monthly earning ....

driller41




msg:3824461
 12:15 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think this really demonstrates how shouting about something and exagerating/distorting some news can generate a ton of links and traffic to a new website, these guys have a new CO2 site i think - that is my take on this.

zeus




msg:3824484
 12:37 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

this co2 topic and then against the Cars around the world is so NOT gonna help us, but its so easy to blame the Cars.

No one is talking about plains and Ships, we all know Mersk container ships, they put more CO2 in the air then one of the the countries in Scandinavia all together.

Cars put about 5% in the air from a CO2, 5% but they are a easy target.

I just wanted to say that.

Visit Thailand




msg:3824485
 12:43 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I wonder what the impact on the environment is from all these people doing silly studies on the impact of things such as search engines to the environment.

I want free electric so make solar panels free or at least inexpensive to buy and install.

tomda




msg:3824488
 12:48 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Useless... Pointless...

Luckily Google is fast and accurate, imagine Google returning search results like Yahoo, then it would not be 7g per search but 21g per search.

Thank you Google

[edited by: engine at 3:04 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2009]
[edit reason] Language [/edit]

rustybrick




msg:3824489
 12:53 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google responds...

[googleblog.blogspot.com...]

grelmar




msg:3824532
 2:23 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's stuff like this that's the reason I'm a closet environmentalist who wants nothing to do with people in the environmental movement.

Shaky logic, bad math, and distorted statistics are the stock and trade of people in the movement. So long as the end result is a big fat "Booga-booga BOOGA!" they're all too often willing to chuck niceties like cold hard facts and solid reasoning out the window.

From a propaganda perspective, it works. People are going to be quoting that little analogy for years to come, because it's easy for mouth-breathers to grasp. "Unga-bunga, two Google = 1 cuppa-tea."

It's bad math written by clever people to deceive knuckle draggers.

johnnie




msg:3824533
 2:23 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isnt google that company which powers its HQ partly by solar panels? Google is very, very environmentally aware, with various projects running as indicated in their blogpost.

driller41




msg:3824543
 2:41 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

"Isnt google that company which powers its HQ partly by solar panels? Google is very, very environmentally aware, with various projects running as indicated in their blogpost."

Unfortunately this is just Google window dressing - the sort of multi PC low end server farms they run - thousands of cheap and cheerful computers are definitely not environmentally friendly, and since they keep everything backed up in multi locations makes the number of PCs they run even higher.

The reality is that power consumption is a major factor in deciding where google builds it data centers - what does that say about their power consumption?

nealrodriguez




msg:3824577
 3:29 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

so does this mean i shouldn't boil tea? i just bought a new box of chai;

signor_john




msg:3824613
 4:18 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

so does this mean i shouldn't boil tea?

Look for a way to recapture the heat from your computer's power supply. :-)

Seriously, though, the comparison between searching and "boiling a kettle for tea" seems strained at best. We also need to remember that computers are becoming more and more energy-efficient, while boiling a kettle of tea will continue to require a fair amount of energy. In the long run, Google searches are likely to produce less greenhouse gas per capita than boiling and cooking are. If we really want to cut down on our carbon output, we should retire our kettles and drink sun tea or tap water.

mack




msg:3824616
 4:23 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am all for looking after the environment, but I think the reason this article was written was not to present interesting facts, but to cause a reaction and create link love.

I hate articles that make sensational claims without any form of sitation. TBO there realy is no acurate way for us to know the size of Googles carbon footprint. But we shoulden't be to criticle if it is large, Google is a huge company. If we take Google and compare it to a much smaller company I wouldent be surprized of Google produces less carbon per employee. (and no i cant produce a citation :) )

Mack.

LifeinAsia




msg:3824618
 4:24 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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 ... a typical search generates about 7g of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15g.

In what math system does 46.7% equal "about the same amount?!"

Let's look at it the other way. Assuming these numbers are correct (I'm not- it's just for the sake of argument), if this scare report caused 50% of the world's searchers to stop using Google, then the amount of CO2 per search would double. Conversely, if twice as many people searched on Google, the carbon footprint would be half of what it is now.

The obvious conclusion from this "research" is that people should search MORE on Google to help stop global warming!

Yoshimi




msg:3824622
 4:30 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

How many google searches were performed in the making of this report. Also my kettle uses far more energy then that, as it only boils exactly what it needs...no wastage for me!

Brett_Tabke




msg:3824637
 4:50 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

There you have it, a text book link bait example of how to attack power.

I vow to do four needless searches for every post in this thread and every time I see this story on the web.

sgietz




msg:3824638
 4:51 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can smell a Google carbon tax coming down the pike.

arubicus




msg:3824660
 5:25 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

"I vow to do four needless searches for every post in this thread and every time I see this story on the web. "

Here is another 4 searches for ya!

JS_Harris




msg:3824673
 5:37 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can small a new push to "reset the web" by first getting out the propaganda that this one "could be done better". No thank you.

Any person with half an ouce of common sense realizes that their own computer uses more than that just to power up. If this report was aimed at helping the environment it would be shared with Google only so that Google could improve it's energy consumption practices... instead it's being sent to all of us to promote "ooooo woooooow". Bleh.

scout




msg:3824765
 7:09 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Al Gore is to blame for this since he invented the internet!

hutcheson




msg:3824879
 9:41 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

>Any person with half an ounce of common sense realizes that their own computer uses more than that just to power up.

Too true. How about looking at the horrible environmental cost of Windows Aero overhead? I bet you could Google all day from a Linux box on less CO^2 than Aero chews up....

It's funny how often studies like this focus on companies that (a) are much less evil in that respect than Microsoft, and (b) compete in some respect with Microsoft.

Or maybe it's not so funny.

frontpage




msg:3824950
 11:59 pm on Jan 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

This story is absolute nonsense. Anthropological global warming is a myth.

Robert Charlton




msg:3824987
 1:37 am on Jan 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

We had a thread back in October 2008 about the attention Google was giving to energy conservation....

Haunted by High Energy Costs? New link on Google homepage
[webmasterworld.com...]

There's also a link in the thread to Eric Schmidt's speech about Google's energy plans.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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