Are Your Google Searches Killing the Planet?

by Brian McGraw on June 7, 2011

in Blog

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“Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time?” in The Vancouver Sun

It’s Saturday night, and you want to catch the latest summer blockbuster. You do a quick Google search to find the venue and right time, and off you go to enjoy some mindless fun.

Meanwhile, your Internet search has just helped kill the planet. Depending on how long you took and what sites you visited, your search caused the emission of one to 10 grams of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Sure, it’s not a lot on its own — but add up all of the more than one billion daily Google searches, throw in 60 million Facebook status updates each day, 50 million daily tweets and 250 billion emails per day, and you’re making a serious dent in some Greenland glaciers.

The Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world. We save on paper and mailing by sending an email. We can telecommute instead of driving to work. We can have a meeting by teleconference instead of flying to another city.

Ironically, despite the web’s green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet’s fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world’s electricity.

If the Internet was a country, it would be the planet’s fifth-biggest consumer of power, ahead of India and Germany. The Internet’s power needs now rival those of the aviation industry and are expected to nearly double by 2020.

They answer in the affirmative. Articles like this must encourage Google’s PR department to purchase additional wind farms. To be fair, the article does mention the massive energy and efficiency savings offered by the internet, but unfortunately, humans love the darned internet so much we keep using more and more of it. We have seen a world without the internet, and we do not want to live there.

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