So, it’s been revealed that performing two Google searches from your desktop computer could generate as much carbon dioxide as boiling your kettle for a cup of tea.
Apparently, every time you search for something on Google your query isn’t sent to one server, but lots of different servers, located across the US, Europe, Japan and China. Each server competes against the other to retrieve results faster – and this leads to increased energy consumption.
There are lots of impressive figures to support the claims of the project’s researcher, Dr Alex Wissner-Gross, but I’m not a huge fan of quantitative studies so I’m not as outraged as some by these revelations. As pointed out by another sceptic on the Technologizer Blog you could be searching for information about a life threatening disease or browsing results for your favourite TV show and what these statistics fail to recognise is that each of these searches has a different value, or worth, to the searcher.
In their own response, Google hints at the energy being saved by performing searches online and questions the validity of the results. All makes for interesting reading.
Whatever your opinion, the research carried out at Harvard does make us stop and think about ‘searching the internet’ as an environmental issue, and that’s a good thing. Although, I did perform about 8 different Google searches this morning to find out more information about the environmental impact of Google. Oh, the irony….