14 Jan 2009

Carbon cost of googling Ruscombe Green?

The Times carried an article (see here) at the weekend saying a researcher claims that performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.

Photos: Sheep at top of Ash Lane last week with crow on its head

The article says Google is secretive about its carbon footprint but with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern. Apparently when you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips”, your request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other. It may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. The system minimises delays but raises energy consumption.

Amazingly in another calculation, maintaining a character (known as an avatar) in the Second Life virtual reality game, requires 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian!

It is great to have this info so that we can be aware of are carbon usage and seek ways to cut - but sometimes it all seems too much looking at every aspect of our lives and seeking ways to cut carbon - oh for innocence and not knowing!

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