Is Google destroying the planet?

January 11, 2009
36 Views

In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen tells Alice that she’s “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. Well, it’s a good thing I read this post about the environmental impact of Google searches before breakfast. It cites physicist Alex Wissner-Gross as saying that the average Google search generates 7g of CO2, using up half as much energy as boiling a kettle for a cup of te

In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen tells Alice that she’s “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. Well, it’s a good thing I read this post about the environmental impact of Google searches before breakfast. It cites physicist Alex Wissner-Gross as saying that the average Google search generates 7g of CO2, using up half as much energy as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.

I ate some breakfast after reading it, and now I’m feeling appropriately skeptical again. If nothing else, I doubt Google reveals enough about its internals for anyone to come to such a precise calculation.

Nonetheless, there may be something worth exploring in this argument. Even if the environmental cost of Google is far less than this research claims, it’s still a cost. Perhaps we should think about information seeking systems not only in terms of efficient use of human attention, but also in terms of other non-renewable natural resources.

In the automobile industry, we (at least in the United States) made the mistake of assuming the customer was always right, thus favoring SUVs over more economical and energy-efficient alternatives. Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson, though that’s still to be determined. In any case, perhaps there’s a similar lesson to be learned in the world of search engines.

Link to original post

You may be interested

How SAP Hana is Driving Big Data Startups
Big Data
298 shares3,042 views
Big Data
298 shares3,042 views

How SAP Hana is Driving Big Data Startups

Ryan Kh - July 20, 2017

The first version of SAP Hana was released in 2010, before Hadoop and other big data extraction tools were introduced.…

Data Erasing Software vs Physical Destruction: Sustainable Way of Data Deletion
Data Management
57 views
Data Management
57 views

Data Erasing Software vs Physical Destruction: Sustainable Way of Data Deletion

Manish Bhickta - July 20, 2017

Physical Data destruction techniques are efficient enough to destroy data, but they can never be considered eco-friendly. On the other…

10 Simple Rules for Creating a Good Data Management Plan
Data Management
69 shares656 views
Data Management
69 shares656 views

10 Simple Rules for Creating a Good Data Management Plan

GloriaKopp - July 20, 2017

Part of business planning is arranging how data will be used in the development of a project. This is why…