Half a forest was burned on the printing presses and a ton of CO2 blasted into orbit as the Times reported yesterday that "Two Google searches needed the same amount of energy to boil a kettle of water." Tons of blogs and newspapers worldwide dove at the news like hungry vultures to dig this story, like I did in the article "Plant a Tree and get a free search" yesterday.Google immediately denied the alledged amounts of pollution, but it was Techcrunch blogger Jason Kincaid who actually managed to get the facts straight.
The quintessence of the story run by the Times was young Harvard physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, who was quoted in saying “that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea”. Kincaid received the article very sceptical and did some proper research.
"Unfortunately, according to Wissner-Gross he never said anything of the sort. For starters, he says he would never refer to any sort of measurement having to do with tea (he’d go with coffee). But his findings have nothing to do with Google as a company, either - they’re concerned with much more generalized stats, like your computer’s rate of CO2 production when you look at a
Wissner-Gross says that the widely circulated 7 gram/search figure came from some other source (he’s not sure where), and notes that if you read the article carefully it only makes it sound like it’s from his data. He has confirmed that he did make some vague statements regarding Google, including “A Google search has a definite environmental impact” and “Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power”. But the “tea kettle” statistic that has been repeated ad nauseum simply isn’t his. After learning of the misleading story, Wissner-Gross says that he contacted The Times and was assured that it would be fixed by Sunday morning. No corrections have been made.?
Kincaid also states that this isn't the first time the Times has gone awry;
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that The Times has been mistaken about a tech story - in late November the newspaper incorrectly reported on a complicated and fictional Yahoo/Microsoft search arrangement.
I remember touching this topic earlier this morning as I wrote that the credit crunch was a healthy wind passing through the traditional media landscape;
The credit crunch might be a blessing to shake that old tree (and save a rainforest in the proces) and force the old newspaper industry to innovate. The world of news and information has changed with the arrivel of web 2.0, called the social web, or conversational web by others. The most heard argument in this case is that bloggers are not trained journalists and are living the fastlane without time to do thorough research and taking time to write indepth stories. Well, there are a few out there that prove you wrong. And if that's the case, why not skip daily newspapers and let the bloggers and televesion do the daily news and create more indepth research magazines?
I think the research by Kincaid proves the old media wrong. It's bloggers who get the facts straight and not trained journalists with years and years of field experience and editors to double check.
In short, we all stand corrected. Google's footprint is down a little bit, but the main focus of my article yesterday still stands:
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.
Read the full Techcrunch article here.
Labels: blog, climate, google, innovation, media, techcrunch, technology