Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Google’s Footprint: The Environmental Impact of Internet Searches

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Forget the economic meltdown, rising unemployment, and trillion-dollar deficits. The burning question of the day is: Are your Google searches killing the planet?

To recap: The Times of London reported on Sunday research purportedly showing that Internet searches, by flitting from desktops to servers around the world, have a significant environmental impact—7 grams of carbon-dioxide emissions, to be exact. Or, to use the British standard for energy consumption, about half as much as comes from boiling a “kettle of tea.” Multiply that by Google’s five billion searches a day, and the green-talking Internet darling started to look like an environmental villain.

Except that the numbers in the study were widely inflated, Google contends. It says a Google search produces about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide. Tech outlets and the blogosphere have been buzzing with claims and counter-claims about Google’s true environmental footprint.

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