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Is Google endangering our planet?

I came across an article in the Economic Times, India a few days back which had some frightening statistics about Google.

According to a new research by Alex Wissner-Gross, a typical search generates about seven grammes of CO2 whereas an electric kettle generates about 15 gm.

On average there are 200 million searches performed daily which is a lot of CO2.

Google was quick to react to this with an article on their blog. The article details rather minutely how seven grammes is too high an estimate. I quote:

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.

In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, but most cars don’t reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those of in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

This is a really good news indeed. Who do we believe? A big corporation or tiny researcher. One thing for sure is the necessity for technology companies to take this entire issue seriously. The rising level of greenhouse gasses is a major problem. USA is also one of the major producers of CO2.

What do you think of the whole issue?


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