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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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 :) )
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.
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!
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.
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.
Haunted by High Energy Costs? New link on Google homepage
There's also a link in the thread to Eric Schmidt's speech about Google's energy plans.