Monday, January 12, 2009

Plant a Tree and get a free search

If you're reading this, There's a good chance you've wasted enough energy to boil a kettle of water to get here. A recent study by Harvard shows Googling is putting tons of CO2 into the air.

Below a copy of an article in the which describes the Harvard findings:

Googling has 'a very definite environmental impact' according to research conducted by a physicist from Harvard University

A typical search through the online giant's website is thought to generate about 7g of carbon dioxide. Boiling a kettle produces about 15g. The emissions are caused both by the electricity required to power a user's computer and send their request to servers around the world.

The discovery comes amid increasing warnings about the little-known environmental impact of computer and internet use.

According to Gartner, an American research firm, IT now causes about two per cent of global CO2 emissions and its carbon footprint exceeded that of the world's aviation industry for the first time in 2007.

Dr Alex Wissner-Gross, a physicist from Harvard University who is leading research into the subject, has estimated that browsing a basic website generates about 0.02g of CO2 for every second it is viewed.

Websites with complex video can be responsible for up to 0.2 g per second, he believes. On his website,, Dr Wissner-Gross wrote: "Websites are provided by servers and are viewed by visitors' computers that are connected via networks."

"These servers, clients and networks all require electricity in order to run, electricity that is largely generated by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. "

"When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, which contribute to climate change. " Dr Wissner-Gross believes that Google's unique structure - which sees it send searches to multiple servers around the world and give which ever response is returned quickest - causes its searches to produce more emissions than some other sites.

He told a newspaper: "Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power. "

"A Google search has a definite environmental impact. "

"Google are very efficient but their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy,"

A separate analysis by John Buckley, of, a British environmental website, put the CO2 emissions of a Google search at between 1g and 10g. Chris Goodall, the author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, said that assuming the user spends 15 minutes on their computer, the carbon emission of a Google is between 7g and 10g.

Google claimed that the number was "many times too high" and one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2.

A spokesman for Google said: "We are among the most efficient of all internet search

Does it matter how much grams it is, it is not helping the environment, but what are the alternatives? Cut down the rainforest to satisfy our information needs by distributing all the blogs on paper? I guess not. You might encourage a lot of writers to just stop blogging and the world would be better off.

I doubt we'll see that happening. Perhaps it's better to think how we can compensate. Have Google plant and other big spenders plant a forest to compensate, just like we've got to pay an additional tax for flying in the Netherlands. The only problem is.... Google and every other major player on the market is either American or China based, which means they don't really give a **** about the environment. Despite Al Gore and every greenie in the States, every environmental deal is blocked by the United States in favor of economic growth. Where did that bring us? It only brought global crisis. America has blocked deals like the Kyoto protocol so it could continue to produce supersized cars. It has only killed innovation and the United States are now putting billions of dollars into an outdated automotive industry. Cars are too big, engines to polluting for the present day world. No wonder nobody's buying anymore.

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Anonymous KyNam Doan said...

This is a perfect response! Google should launch a campaign where they will mail you a seed for you to plant if you email them using your Gmail account. Awesome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 1:11:00 AM  
Blogger joshua said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009 5:57:00 AM  
Blogger VeeJay Burns said...

Welcome Sharon, KyNam.

I appreciate the feedback :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 7:43:00 AM  

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