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The Environmental Impact of Google Searches 516

Posted by timothy
from the compounding-wild-ass-guesses dept.
paleshadows writes "The Times Online reports that researchers claim that each query submitted to Google has a quantifiable impact. Specifically, two queries performed through a desktop computer generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a cup of tea. From the article: 'While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 [whereas] boiling a kettle generates about 15g [...] Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centers. However, with more than 200m Internet searches estimated daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the Internet is provoking concern. A recent report [argues that] the global IT industry generate[s] as much greenhouse gas as the world's airlines — about 2% of global CO2 emissions.'" Google makes an interesting focus for such claims, but similar extrapolations have been done before about, for instance, the energy costs of sending a short email.
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The Environmental Impact of Google Searches

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  • Wrong Comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:37PM (#26410475)

    Were there not a Google (or internet equivalent), I wouldn't sit back in my rocking chair, exclaim "Oh, well," and have a cup or two of tea. Instead, I'd get in my car and drive to the library to look whatever it was up in a reference book, or search the catalog for a book I could borrow on the topic.

    In that way, Google (or equivalent) saves energy.

    Now that said, I expect Google to do their best to minimize energy consumption. Given that their electricity costs directly hit their cost of doing business, I suspect they agree with this goal.

    • Re:Wrong Comparison (Score:4, Informative)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:39PM (#26410497)

      Given that their electricity costs directly hit their cost of doing business, I suspect they agree with this goal.

      Google locates a lot of datacenter capacity in areas served by hydroelectric power.

      • Re:Wrong Comparison (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:47PM (#26410595) Homepage Journal

        Not to mention they're VERY close to the power source, which means very little power is wasted in the transmission/transmission lines. The signal from the data center to your ISP is a photon so there's very little transmission loss until it gets to the last mile. Really it's up to the consumer to have a energy efficient computer more than anything else.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        Hydro power may be cheaper than fossil fuel, but it's not free. Same goes for its carbon footprint.

        If you're going to quote the Retief stories in your sig, how about something that conveys their droll sense of humor. My favorite: "Elevate your manipulative member above your sense organ cluster!" And of course, anything by those weird aliens who never use verbs.

        • by CdBee (742846) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:41PM (#26411077)
          If I do enough google searches, the amount of emissions required to boil my kettle is reduced as the water is warmer to start with thanks to global warming..
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 4D6963 (933028)

        Tell the guy who made that research :

        "Google refuses to divulge the locations of its data centres"

        So basically he doesn't know whether their datacentres are plugged into coal power plants or nuclear plants, he's just making wild assumptions?

        "When you type in a Google search for, say, âoeenergy saving tipsâ, your request doesnâ(TM)t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other."

        Wow, that was a pretty fucking lame way to make it sound energy-inefficient. As if it c

        • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:17PM (#26410839) Homepage

          The Google servers should be made of wood, just as God intended.

        • by tenco (773732) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#26411115)

          That's funny because mine generates 0g per hour. It's called nuclear power.

          I doubt this. You have to mine uranium ore, refine it to sth breedable, build a reactor and transport lots of weight around. This will produce lots of CO2 initially and continuously unless your machinery doesn't run on fossil fuels. Which is very unlikely.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by feyhunde (700477)
            Unless you use enough to make other fuels viable. Ore refining of Uranium can be done electrically. Hanford site and Oakridge were picked for reasons of cheap power from hydro. Only thing left is transport. And even that can be carbon free if you're willing to do pebble bed reactors. The thing is even though there's CO2 from those, you don't have the carload of coal per hour like coal plants. Sure there's minor stuff, but that's in all of them. When you compare it to the massive coal burning we got going,
      • by jesterzog (189797)

        Google locates a lot of datacenter capacity in areas served by hydroelectric power.

        Is this very significant if it's still using electricity that would otherwise be in the grid for others to use? Google's use of electricity probably just contributes to more coal-fired power plants being powered up elsewhere.

        Not that I think Google should immediately be considered the one at fault here unless it could be shown that their power use is somehow disproportinate compared with the benefit they provide when compare

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      It would be better if you rode the bus to the library. But that would be inconvenient. It says a lot about the issue that everybody (except all the kneejerk "skeptics" that will soon post on this story) cares about curbing greenhouse gases, but nobody is willing to make the troublesome lifestyle changes necessary to make a real difference. Instead, we nibble around the edges of the problem, with marginal changes like "shrinking our carbon footprint" (hence this story and the strong market for hybrid cars) a

      • Re:Wrong Comparison (Score:5, Informative)

        by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:56PM (#26410679)

        It would be better if you rode the bus to the library. But that would be inconvenient. It says a lot about the issue that everybody (except all the kneejerk "skeptics" that will soon post on this story) cares about curbing greenhouse gases, but nobody is willing to make the troublesome lifestyle changes necessary to make a real difference.

        My city doesn't have bus service. So yes, waiting for a bus would be incredibly inconvenient.

        nobody is willing to make the troublesome lifestyle changes necessary to make a real difference.

        Does this include you? People aren't going to make huge changes because, for the most part, that doesn't make a big difference. Everyone making a small change has a much, much bigger impact than just a few people (those unselfish enough to care) making a big change. Raising the minimum legal mileage for new cars by one MPG would be a much, much bigger change than me riding a bike to work every day. (Not that I could given the distance, nor could both me and my wife given how far apart we work no matter where we move.) I can choose to not buy another car until one that gets high mileage from an alternative fuel source is available, which is what I've been doing for the last few years.

        I personally boil my tea and coffee water in the microwave.

        I drink tap water at whatever temperature it comes out of the cold faucet. That reduces my carbon footprint further. =p

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)

          My city doesn't have bus service. So yes, waiting for a bus would be incredibly inconvenient.

          Even if you did live in a city with bus service, very few U.S. cities have systems that don't take forever to get you to where you want to go. The only people that use them are folks who don't have access to a car for some reason or another.

          So, most of us have really good excuses for not relying on public transit. But excuses are not solutions. I don't see anybody pounding on their local government demanding bigger mass transit systems. At least, not as many as complain about the condition of the road syste

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Phat_Tony (661117)

          Raising the minimum legal mileage for new cars by one MPG would be a much, much bigger change than me riding a bike to work every day.

          Especially if you take something fuel efficient to work, because riding a bicycle has about the same energy footprint as driving a small hybrid car or riding a small motorcycle [templetons.com]. That is, unless you were going to exercise anyway and don't do your other exercise because you used your bike to get somewhere. Or if you subsist entirely off low energy food, like you only eat soy beans you buy in 50-lb bags from a local farmer. But if you eat like regular people, and you have to replace the calories you expend p

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mysidia (191772)

      I don't think individual queries actually consume this much extra energy.

      They are estimating the total power consumption of google's infrastructure and dividing it by the number of search queries.

      Google has ample spare capacity doing very little.

      So the more searches that are performed, the less the energy consumption per search.

      The methodology is flawwed... attributing consumption of infrastructure automatically to its users

      • Ahh, I didn't RTFA. I assumed they were talking differential power from causing hard drive accesses, all the routers on the way having to process extra packets, etc.

        Still, my original claim is accurate. Were Google not to exist, their infrastructure and base power consumption wouldn't either, and there would be an increase in road traffic.

      • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:23PM (#26410901) Homepage Journal
        I think their main folly is that they don't distinguish between the power necessary to service requests vs. the total power used(which includes all the power it takes to index sites and store the results so they can be fetched quickly etc.) There is a big difference as the power required to index is relatively static and thus doesn't depend on the number of searches. In fact, the power per search using their methodology may actually drop the more searches that are performed because each search's share of the power required for indexing drops.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eof (33820)

      Were there not a Google (or internet equivalent), I wouldn't sit back in my rocking chair, exclaim "Oh, well," and have a cup or two of tea. Instead, I'd get in my car and drive to the library to look whatever it was up in a reference book, or search the catalog for a book I could borrow on the topic.

      In that way, Google (or equivalent) saves energy.

      Now that said, I expect Google to do their best to minimize energy consumption. Given that their electricity costs directly hit their cost of doing business, I suspect they agree with this goal.

      I'm inclined to agree. It's impossible to determine whether using Google results in a net savings or loss of energy/carbon/etc. when compared to the actions that would replace using Google. The article does go on to state that a relative comparison is more important than absolute values, but does so after a lot of rather accusatory language that sets the tone. Unfortunate.

    • by Haoie (1277294)

      I'm going to take a different approach and state that as long as your search turned up something useful to you, hopefully resulting in you learning something or getting somewhere, then it'd be worth a little more junk in the air.

      And yes that applies to porn searches too. That's a social service [sorta].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Good point. Or maybe just as much to the point, even if you were doing things online, if not for Google, someone else would be doing the same thing. If no one were doing it, then it would just mean it would take you much longer to find the things you were looking for, which would arguably lead to you using more of other resources.

      The point of the article seems to be that Google is optimizing for performance instead of energy consumption. Seems like a valid complaint, except that if their engine performe

    • by bipbop (1144919)
      Though you have a point, you've only made half of it. While they reduce the overall cost of the operation, they also reduce the cost to you--looking something up on google is far more convenient than driving to the library and looking something up, even if you amortize the trip across all the research you do while you're there. This reduced cost means you (the generic user, not "you" you) do far more searches on Google than you would trips to the library for the same information. So, while you're probabl
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      Carbon Footprint calculations are rather complicated. For any of you have worked on manufacturing systems it is much like a highly detailed BOM (Bill of Materials) that has calculations down to the finest details. And because the there are so many variables using your intuition or estimates undoubtedly makes your values way off.
      For example if you buy lumber from local sources may have a higher carbon footprint then lumber that you buy overseas. Yes there is a carbon cost of shipping the lumber across the

    • Re:Wrong Comparison (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#26411111) Homepage Journal

      That is extremely doubtful. 99% of the time, you would not do that. It isn't like we used to run to the library every time we wondered, say, who "sarah palin" was. (Top search for 2008.) In most cases, we just remained ignorant.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:37PM (#26410477)

    the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a cup of tea

    That explains the infinite improbability factor that gives links to pron sites from nearly every innocent search.

    • the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a cup of tea

      That explains the infinite improbability factor that gives links to pron sites from nearly every innocent search.

      Google must employ somebody to keep the cup of tea warm otherwise their search tool will stop delivering results.

  • Actual Impact? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by perlhacker14 (1056902)

    I find it somewhat hard to believe that this study will change anything; the number of searches are not going to decrease, and people are probably not going to stop drinking tea. So even if each search released fifteen times more CO2, would that change anything?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by kaiidth (104315)

      This may be excessively cynical, but I regularly get these studies quoted at me and have come to believe that, whilst there is clearly sanity in reducing energy usage as far as possible without impairing needed performance, there is also a couple of other motivations driving much of this stuff. One is the fact that, like it or not, this sort of thing attracts funding, and another is the overwhelming urge to demonstrate that you're a nice PC green believer in saving the planet.

      The problem is, as you say, th

  • by AaxelB (1034884) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:39PM (#26410505)

    A recent report [argues that] the global IT industry generate[s] as much greenhouse gas as the world's airlines â" about 2% of global CO2 emissions.

    Oh, that's not bad. Considering how huge a positive impact the IT industry has, that honestly seems like a relatively acceptable amount. And I'd rather have two googles than a cup of tea any day.

  • Good Lord... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imamac (1083405) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:42PM (#26410533)
    Let's just shut down every piece of modern technology and revert to a hunter-gatherer civilization. Will that make the enviornmentalists finally shut up? Why not stop people from breathing too, since that produces C02.
    • Re:Good Lord... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iNaya (1049686) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:49PM (#26410607)
      There is no way the Earth could possibly support 7 billion hunter gatherers. To do that, we would need to cull our population to about 1.000.000, or our food supply would run out in very short order. We'd probably hunt EVERY SINGLE species on Earth to extinction, if we didn't eat their food source first.
      • Re:Good Lord... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by edumacator (910819) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:14PM (#26411399)

        There is no way the Earth could possibly support 7 billion hunter gatherers.

        Tomorrow as you head to work, take a look around at the people you pass. I'd venture to say, the process of hunting and gathering would cull about 99.7% of those you see. Hunting and gathering is a lot of work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In fact, there are environmentalists who do claim they think the world would be better off without people. There is a point where environmentalism changes from prudent concern to misanthropy.

    • by edumacator (910819) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:07PM (#26410767)

      Let's just shut down every piece of modern technology and revert to a hunter-gatherer civilization. Will that make the enviornmentalists finally shut up?

      Nope. Then we'd be eating the animals, and that is not okay.

    • No, it wouldn't (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:25PM (#26411479)

      The Eco nuts don't really care about saving the environment. They are basically just whiners. You'll notice that what they love to do is point out problems. Well that's easy because there is a problem with everything. EVERYTHING has a cost. Doesn't matter what it is, there is a cost, a tradeoff, to everything. So it is pretty easy to just pick out the cost of everything and scream about it. Much harder is to actually be constructive and come up with solutions. That means evaluating different options, figuring out the relative costs, including indirect costs, and then choosing the best combination. That's not what these people are interested in. They just want to hate on everything. So no matter what you do, they'll not be happy about it.

  • by Athrac (931987) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:43PM (#26410539)
    That doesn't sound right to me. Must be at least ten times that.
  • by txoof (553270) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:44PM (#26410541) Homepage

    According to my google search history [google.com] I am responsible for about 112 kg of carbon. I wonder how long I have to hold my breath to off set that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Start holding now, we'll tell you when to stop.... =) j/k

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Assuming 0.04 g of C02 per exhalation (about average), 12 breaths per minute (reasonable resting rate), about 162 days.

      The first few minutes are the hardest. After that it's easy.

  • by Hanzie (16075) * on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:45PM (#26410553)
    I expect our shiny new government is going to start taxing us on carbon soon. They are throwing money at failing businesses by the billions, while the tax base is collapsing. They are going to need to try to replace that cash somehow.
  • This kind of news leads to a CO2 (and unfortunately methane) emitting knee-jerk reaction - That study must have been payed by M$.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nixkuroi (569546)
      Right, because Microsoft would benefit from people using computers less.
    • by iNaya (1049686)

      I'm not sure if I hope you're joking or not...

      Regardless, I find the content of the article very badly, and unscientifically based. For instance, it's not considering the opportunity cost, that is, what would happen if one wasn't doing those two Google searches... driving to the library? Walking to the library? Yes, even walking uses up extra CO2.

      Also the cost of the electricity most likely wouldn't increase anywhere near as much as they say. 2 searches = a boiled kettle. What utter nonsense! The power is a

  • I don't buy it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quibbler (175041) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:45PM (#26410567)

    I'd like to see the in-depth math on this, I don't buy these numbers, its smells of environmental-shock-value reasoning... Example - if they are dividing the total power used by google by the number of searches, that would only be applicable if google were working at 100% capacity and if *all* they did was searches...

    This is kinda like the Greenpeace founder who hated nuclear power till they read a freaking book. Boo.

    • Re:I don't buy it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:00PM (#26410715)

      Google claims to use less energy than the user during the search:

      http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/datacenters/

      "The graph below shows that our Google-designed data centers use considerably less energy - both for the servers and the facility itself - than a typical data center. As a result, the energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than we will use to answer your query."

      The researcher claims that surfing produces 0.02g of CO2 per second.

    • by iNaya (1049686)

      Completely agreed. Unfortunately I used up all my mod points in the IT Jobs article :-(

      I find it quite amusing that many "green"s would prefer hydro (environment destroying), coal (CO2 + dirty) etc. over nuclear (very little space taken, no "greenhouse" gasses, radiation no way near as destructive as people make believe).

      And yeah, I completely miss the point of this guy's research. What's he trying to do? Tell Google that they should be saving on electricity COSTS? Like they aren't already putting effort in

    • Re:I don't buy it... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LeDopore (898286) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:19PM (#26410859) Homepage Journal

      You're right. Here's some math:

      250g water in a cup of tea.
      Specific heat of water = 4186 J/kg/(degree C). (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_heat_capacity [wikipedia.org]).
      80 Celsius degree change from room temperature to boiling.

      To boil a teacup's worth of water, therefore it takes ~80 kJ.

      For this to be twice the energy consumed with one search, that's ~40 kJ per search.

      If a search takes Google about 100 ms, that means Google would be using 400 kW while responding to your search. That feels like it's about 3 orders of magnitude too high. It's possible that the original researchers got Calories and kCal confused.

    • Re:I don't buy it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Servants (587312) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#26411109)
      The quote from the not-really-worth-reading article is:

      Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, estimates the carbon emissions of a Google search at 7g to 10g (assuming 15 minutes' computer use).

      So they might be measuring the energy needed to turn on a computer and mess around on the Internet for 15 minutes. Or they might just be making stuff up.

  • by nixkuroi (569546) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:46PM (#26410583)
    Time to have a global boston tea party and dump all the tea into the ocean. With roughly 2-3 billion less tea drinkers in the world, think of how many more searches we can do without impacting the environment! And think of those who drink multiple glasses. It's like a critical hit against tea/energy expense. Booyah! problem solved.
    • by Kindaian (577374)

      Don't drop tea in the ocean...

      The temperature of the ocean will raise and you will melt all the polar ice!

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Better yet, let's do what we're the best at doing and let's create an antagonism! Tea drinkers have been ruining our atmosphere for too long. Should we let them keep on participating to the destruction of our planet for the sake of preserving their sick habit? Or should we force them to stop drinking tea by all means and kill those who don't (and bury them in airtight bags, to avoid, you know, the gas emissions).

      You're either with Earth or against Earth! Letting people drink tea would be like letting the te

  • Of course, clicking on the following might lead to seven more grams of carbon dioxide being generated . . ..

    Ultimate Physical Limits to Computation

    http://physics.princeton.edu/~mcdonald/examples/QM/lloyd_nature_406_1047_00.pdf [princeton.edu] (pdf warning, obviously)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:51PM (#26410635)

    I'm on this advisory group of 6 people and we wanted to participate in a 2 day conference by flying a representative there or through video conferencing. For some reason the carbon footprint argument was used IN SUPPORT of flying because of that recent news about data-centres being polluters. There was news that IT are going to be the 2nd largest cause of pollution in a few years, and therefore flying was somehow comparably damaging to IT.

    I thought that this was against common sense, but it was surprisingly difficult to understand the difference. If an ISP wanted to 'go green' what kind of carbon offset would they need to invest in, per Gig? I found a Harvard study[***] on banner ads that seems to be applicable to internet traffic in general.

    It's difficult to quantify and compare the two scenarios[*] but flying to London and back releases about 4,000 kilos of CO2[**] whereas sending 10G of data (video conferencing of youtube-quality video for 16 hours to 7 people) releases about about 100 kilos of CO2[***] + 30 kilos to run 7 computers for two days. While the plane's CO2 cost is only in terms of fuel (and not airports or surrounding infrastructure) the data CO2 from the Harvard study[***] is inclusive of wider infrastructure. Also planes releasing CO2 into the upper atmosphere do more damage than CO2 being released on the ground due to Radiative forcing.

    One interesting thing from the Harvard study relates to Moores Law, "we calculate that energy intensity of the internet declined by approximately an order of magnitude from 2000 to 2006. While energy use approximately doubled in that time period, data traffic grew by more than a factor of 20". Now I know that Moores Law is purely about transistor chip density so please don't misunderstand me -- I just mean that as computers and networks get faster the energy needed for 1 gig of traffic will decrease.

    So it's about 4000 kilos for flying ONE PERSON vs 130 kilos of video conferencing FOR ALL PEOPLE.

    [*] because of course it depends on how wide you consider the effects. Flight pollution should of course include airport pollution but how far do we go? Does it include power company polution for the power needed in the airport? It seems that a lot of IT studies are wider in scope than that of flight.
    [**] http://www.cheap-parking.net/flight-carbon-emissions.php [cheap-parking.net] for flying half way around the world and back.
    [***] Harvard Study on CO2 for data: http://www.imc2.com/Documents/CarbonEmissions.pdf [imc2.com]

    ps. In New Zealand? Sign up to http://CreativeFreedom.org.nz [creativefreedom.org.nz]

  • I think the interesting piece to pull from this is how little impact individual industries have compared to the perceived impact.

    The airlines are a good example of this effect. There are quite a few high profile environmentalists who decry airlines and the damage they are doing,.. the probably do NOT think about the enviromental impact of the computers they use or the networks they attach to.

    This is probalby because people have an easier time thinking in terms of singular things with big im

  • And without the internet, we'd be spending a LOT more than that.

    Imagine the gas wasted on trips to the bookstore, vs. aggregation of purchases through Amazon, the reduced waste thanks to Print-On-Demand... you get the idea.

    Google is, for all intents and purposes, the cost of business. I'm all for reducing Google's energy consumption, but it's a lot better than the non-internet alternatives.

  • how about all those yellow pages, encyclopedias, dictionaries, training/research manuals, Porn magazines & catalogs that have to be printed and delivered/picked up?

    some people just like to bitch...

  • doesn't that apply to the Times online also?

    seems they don't have room to talk

  • by Raisey-raison (850922) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:10PM (#26410795)

    While I agree with the sentiment I cannot go so far as to be guilted into not using Google. This craziness stretches into other areas. Large plasma TVs are facing face being banned in the EU. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/giant-plasma-tvs-face-ban-in-battle-to-green-britain-1299665.html [independent.co.uk]

    There is talk about heavily taxing the airline industry to bring down the number of miles flown.

    There seems to be no middle ground. Either its denial of global warming or banning major economic and social activity in the name of the environment.

    Of course we can solve the problem. We need to use non carbon emitting sources such as nuclear power, solar and wind power. Instead the greenies on Europe want to guilt anyone who uses energy. In the end all that does is to depress the economy, raise unemployment and lower standards of living.

    Its also ironic that the greenies always try to inhibit the green power they always go on about. The have stopped wind power on top of mountains in Vermont ( http://www.windaction.org/news/3653 [windaction.org] )and filed lawsuits against solar power in the Nevada desert. http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2008/09/25/are-some-solar-projects-no-longer-%E2%80%98green%E2%80%99/ [csmonitor.com] They even oppose wind power out at sea - Nantucket sound. http://www.nesea.org/publications/NESun/cape_controversy.html [nesea.org] Why? Because it's development and they hate ALL development. They always have some objection.

    The irony is that we cannot address global warming BECAUSE of the opposition to environmentalists. Indeed if we are to use electric cars we are going to need many more (non carbon emitting) power stations which the experimentalists fight against tooth and nail.

    And then I am always amazed by how so many people seem to forge that China is the number one emitter now and that India will soon be number two. If you cannot get these countries on board you are wasting your time. So while the EU impoverishes itself trying to reduce its carbon emissions by 1% China happily adds 10 times that every year anyway.

    • by Zoxed (676559) on Monday January 12, 2009 @04:34AM (#26414501) Homepage

      > We need to use non carbon emitting sources such as nuclear power, solar and wind power.

      None of these are 0 carbon if you look at the full life cycle: building, transporting the materials (and fuel and waste), storing the waste and then decommissioning. What you try to do is *reduce* the carbon output. And not consuming energy is the best for that. And the quickest.

      > Its also ironic that the greenies always try to inhibit the green power they always go on about.

      There is nothing ironic about it: "greenies" are not some kind of homogeneous blob: they are different people with different priorities and ideals, same as all groups of people.

  • Just reading this article and him writing it had a significant global impact according to his own report. He just created more CO2 emissions by posting his article than most people will emit during a year of Google searches. Also, this is where the climate change movement loses it's precedence.
  • Exactly how many kettles of tea does it cost to put all the texts on the internet in print and distribute them across all the libraries ?
  • with a grain of salt. About the size of a basketball.
  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:26PM (#26410939) Homepage

    A new study shows that using Google will destroy the planet [today.com]. A typical Google search on a completely random topic such as "charlot chirch sex tape" produces enough carbon for 98 pencils or seventeen boiled kettles and brutally murders an average of two point four cute fluffy things.

    "A Google search has a definite environmental impact," said Alex Wissner-Gross of Harvard University. "Instead, you should use Windows Live Search — to be renamed Windows Love Search — which produces butterflies and baby seals. That's instead of whatever you were looking for, but hey — it's for the planet."

    Google is "secretive" about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. "Or at least, they told us to fuck off when we asked how many endangered species they'd killed off today. This proves their inherent malice. If you search using Google you may as well be strangling kittens. You should go to a trustworthy company of demonstrated moral fibre, like Microsoft."

    A recent Gartner report said the global IT industry generates as much greenhouse gas as the airlines industry. "Primary in this is the large quantities of hot air produced by completely independent analysts to support the views of the highest bidder."

    The Home Office welcomed the findings. "This proves that Internet users might as well be terrorists," said Jacqui Smith, "and so we'll treat them like they are. All Internet access in the UK will be run through Cleanfeed filters and your electronic ration book ticked off per web page used. Reading Wikipedia or the Guido Fawkes blog will, of course, be declared capital offences."

    Microsoft has demonstrated its environmental credentials by recycling Vista, its huge and lumbering Hummer of an operating system, as Windows 7. "All new and yet ... old," said marketing marketer Steve Ballmer. "Save the planet with Windows 7! Requires 4 core processor 2 gigabytes memory 500 gigabyte hard disk and basement nuclear power plant. Power plant sold separately."

  • Before we shut down Google, we might also want to consider the benefits (both environmental and other) of the Google service.

    How much carbon does it save by sparing us trips to the local or university library? Or in having books shipped to us?

    How much CO2 is saved by having Google Maps give good directions, so that we don't drive around looking for our destination?

    Or how about the green-energy research and procurement that's enabled by people's use of Google?

    Also, consider that Google's porn search elimina

  • Cup of tea? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#26411107) Homepage Journal

    I drink iced tea, you insensitive clod!

  • revealed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:49PM (#26411153) Homepage

    1. Exposing corporations for the evil bastards they are has much less impact when you make up all the numbers.

    2. In the Dalles here in Oregon, their project 02 datacenter pulls all of it's power straight from the hydro dam next door. In fact, the whole reason they built there was because of all the dark fiber underneath, and the hydroelectric dam adjacent. Google didn't get rich by making shitty decisions when it comes to power consumption.

  • by close_wait (697035) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:52PM (#26411189)
    Say a cup of water is 0.25L, and its temperature is being raised from 20C to 100C. That requires 4200 x 0.25 x 80 = 84 kJ

    Now lets be really pessimistic on the Google front. Suppose my search takes Google 1 second, and the search is distributed over ten 500W servers. That's 5 kJ expended. Lets double that to allow for the costs of spidering and indexing, and double again since the article mentions two searches per cup. Thats 20 kJ. Assume I spend a minute on my 30W laptop viewing the search results; thats another 2 kJ.

    So We have 84 kJ verses 22 kJ.

  • by DrDitto (962751) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:58PM (#26411247)
    In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than we will use to answer your query.

    From http://www.google.com/corporate/datacenters/ [google.com]
  • Oh brother (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:05PM (#26411301)
    What are the odds the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is federally funded? Let's hope the economy will soon cut funds for wastes of time like this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheSync (5291)

      What are the odds the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is federally funded?

      The IEEE is an international non-profit, professional organization for the advancement of technology (including standardizing Ethernet and WiFi, publishing leading electrical engineering research publications, etc.). It has the most members of any technical professional organization in the world, with more than 365,000 members in around 150 countries.

      You can read about their sources of income [ieee.org] here. Most money co

  • by pegacat (89763) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:46PM (#26411663) Homepage

    Some facts as I understand them snarfed from the web - corrections welcomed...

    rough cost of (wholesale) energy per kilowatt hour (kwh): ~5c
    CO2 cost per kwh: ~1kg (coal power: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html [ornl.gov])
    time for my (small) 1 litre (~ 1kw) kettle to boil when full is ~ 5 minutes which compares well with the theoretical energy for a 1litre at ~350kj, or 350 seconds time for 1kw . Hence power for a small boiled kettle is a killowatt for 1/10 of an hour, or 0.1 kwh

    So I get...
    Kettle boiling: costs ~.5c, and ~ 100g, ... the article says a kettle take 15g, which I don't get even close to; maybe clever people boil just enough to make single cups only?

    If the article was true, Google doing "more than 200m" searches a day would spend ~ $20m a day on power, or ~ $7billion a year, consuming 100,000 megawatt hours, or a continuous drain of 4,000 megawatts (about the power output of a small US state). On the authors figures, total power consumption would be ~ 650 megawatts, which is still pretty huge, and would still be spending ~ $1billion a year.

    Google use cheap, mass produced low power units in gigantic numbers - estimates are hard to come by, I will estimate 200,000 based on inflating some public estimates (e.g. http://arnab.org/blog/how-many-computers-does-google-have [arnab.org]).

    Energy cost of networking is significant, but I do not believe as great as machines; I'll add 50% for good luck. Utility server machines are dropping in power (~100-200w) but also require cooling, UPSs and network etc., so let's call it 500w all up (figures are difficult to get; everyone is selling something power center wise) - so I get 100 megawatts; or 1/6th of the author's estimate, or 1/40th of the true kettle figure.

    I'd say that the author is overstating the case to make a political point - if I was cynical I'd point out the author has also just launched a business to 'green your web site' by installing monitoring software, estimating the energy cost of searches to it, and then buying carbon offsets on your behalf, so it is in his interests to overestimate such usage..

  • by olddotter (638430) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @10:30PM (#26412553) Homepage

    Did the author read Google's on pages on energy usage?

    http://www.google.com/corporate/green/energy/reducing.html [google.com]
    http://www.google.com/corporate/datacenters/index.html [google.com]

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:39PM (#26413029) Homepage

    Think about this logically: someone, somewhere, has to pay for the electricity for all that. It trickles down to the consumer or the company fails. So: where is the massive cost from the rough equivalent to 400-odd cups of tea I boil every day?

  • by rs232 (849320) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:51AM (#26417693)
    "what it doesn't say is that the website--and Wissner-Gross-- directly benefits [loosewireblog.com] from this kind of research. C02Stats offers clients plans, ranging from $5 a month to $100"

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