According to this research finding, Google is warming the planet by giving us fast websearches.
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, according to new research.
While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.”
I don’t want to waste too much time on this, but this kind of research makes two classic errors: first, it does not assess the websearch in relation to whatever it replaces. So a person doing product comparison on the web has to be compared with a person physically comparing prices in multiple shops, using walking, public transport, a Prius, a Ferrari, etc. Obviously, the research will have a bigger carbon imprint than the search.
Second, this whole approach is Luddite, in that it does not account for the fact that we as humans need to do new and better things, rather than just do the same old, same old. So even if the above opportunity cost problem is addressed, the fact that the Google searches may be improving the quality of the user’s life is not addressed.
By doing the research, the researcher is burdening Mother Gaia, by publicizing it the Times is burdening Mother Gaia, and by blogging about it I am really hammering her. People who are into this line of thinking should consider low-carbon imprint ways of euthanising themselves. Because, that, we can be sure, will have the lowest carbon imprint.