labels: IT news, Environment
Google searches generate 1,400 tonnes of CO2 daily: report news
12 January 2009

PollutionA normal Google search on a desktop computer generates about seven gm of carbon, nearly half the amount of CO2 a kettle generates while it reaches boiling point, reports quoting researchers at the Harward University said.

Considering that Google handles around 200 million searches a day, this would amount to releasing 1,400 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each day, The Times, London said in report on the `Environmental Impact of Google Searches', published in its Sunday edition.

The report is based on research report by Harward researcher Alex Wissner-Gross, who has submitted it for publication by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The researcher has also set up a website called `www.CO2stats.com'.

The report said the carbon impact of the searches come from the enormous power that Google consumes. "Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power," adding that Google seldom reveals the number of its centers or the amount of power it consumes.

Overall, the report said, the IT industry generates about two per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the total greenhouse gases generated by the world's airlines - according to a recent study  by research firm Gartner.

Google, a member of a new group called `Climate Savers Computing Initiative', however, refutes the findings.

Google says the CO2 figure in the research report by Alex Wissner-Gross is "many times too high" and is too inflated. "In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 gm of CO2," it added.

"We have designed and built the most energy efficient data centers in the world, which means the energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query," Google said.

Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google, heads the search giant's efforts to fight global warming that aims to reduce computing power consumption by half by 2010.

The organisation is encouraging member companies, including Google, to turn off computers that are not in use. The organisation has targeted reducing carbon releases equivalent of that generated by 11 million cars on the road.

The Google-led not-for-profit organisation has also made a number of recommendations on how to reduce US coal and oil use for electricity generation by 2030.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, an adviser to president-elect Barack Obama, has also called on the US government to show the political will to foster clean-technology.

Schmidt said Google itself plans to invest more in solar, wind and geothermal energy projects.


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Google searches generate 1,400 tonnes of CO2 daily: report