Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Googling Damages the Environment

Googling Damages the Environment

Rating: 4 / 5

Did you know that two searches on Google equals one cup of boiled water? It's not only air travelling, car journeys and luxury consumption that affects the climate. It now so happens to turn out that such a common thing as doing a search on Google conduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, at the University of Harvard, apparently has calculated the so called "Google Effect". His reports show that two simple searches on Google equals the same amount of energy that it takes to boil a cup of water in a teakettle. The carbon dioxide emissions come from the data terminals and data centers that Google are running all over the world. One search apparently equals an emission of 7 gram, while boiling a cup of water in a teakettle equals an emission of 15 gram.

Millions of Searches Every Day

It does not sound all that bad but it is estimated that the Earth's entire population make about 200 million searches each and every single day. When thinking about it, you start to realize that the statistics are really shocking. Google is regarded as an effective search engine that provides quick results but Alex Wissner-Gross says that it uses several different databanks at the same time which leads to a higher production of carbon dioxide than some of its competitors. Google simply says that they're one of the most effective search engines on the Internet and leaves it at that.

But now, wait a minute, it's all false

Within two days of the news that a Google search creates a boiling teapot of CO2 emissions, it was found that nothing was true. In fact, the original source, Times London, misquoted and made up everything, including the 7 grams per search. Alex Wissler-Gross who was quoted with the "Google Effect" did make the comments that there are environmental impacts but he never said anything about 7 grams.

Yep datacenters leave a footprint, just like anything else

Datacenters are some of the most energy consuming devices in the world. How this affects one single user is unknown but researches, including Wissler-Gross are trying to figure it out. While you may not be killing as many trees like you would if flying in a boing 747, there is an impact when you google. Power and material resources are consumed when you make a search. It's not just the discarded laptop battery having an impact, it's that search too.

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