How many Googles make a cup of tea?
by David Masters
January 12, 2009
What’s worse for the environment: searching Google, or making a cup of tea?
Alex Wissner-Gross, physics boffin from Harvard University, made it his mission to find out.
The answer? Two Google searches emit as much carbon dioxide as making a cup of tea.
According to Wissner-Gross, a typical Google search generates 7g of CO2, whilst boiling the kettle for a cuppa generates 15g.
“A Google search has a definite environmental impact,” he said.
Google’s carbon emissions have two sources.
First, there’s the energy used by the computer of the person making the web search.
Second, there’s the power consumed by Google’s massive data centres that make high speed internet searches possible.
Google’s fame for producing fast results is only possible because it uses several data banks simultaneously for every search made, Wissner-Gross said.
Google, however, denies the charges of high CO2 emissions.
According to Google’s calculations, each search uses just 0.2g of CO2.
“A Google search uses about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds,” said Google spokesperson Urs Hölzle.
Blogger Gordon Turnbull thinks it’s unfair to pick on Google.
“The real story is that global computer usage competes with the world’s airlines combined for the size of carbon footprint,” he said. “Someone will have to address it at some point.”
NeilHump, meanwhile, dismisses the research as beside the point.
“If I didn’t use Google, I’d have to jump into my car and head down to the library,” writes NeilHump.
“Guess that must be a more environmental way to do things. Not.”
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