January 15th, 2009

"Google it" or don't?

"Google it" or don't? story based loosely on the findings of a survey conducted by Harvard physicist, Alex Wissner-Gross had Google up in arms this week. The recent bout of negative press stemmed from Harvard research results that claim Web searches emit between 7g and 10g of CO2 with each query and attributed the stats directly to Google.

The hoopla is based around the idea that queries using the all-knowing Google search engine pump each request out to multiple servers, often to several competing against each other with thousands of miles between them, thereby raising energy consumption and the emission of CO2.

Wissner-Gross’ findings say that 0.002g of CO2 can be attributed to browsing your average website for every second it is viewed while sites with “complex video” emit even higher levels in the neighbourhood of 0.2g per second.

Google responded with the notion that if the carbon cost of a single Google search counteracts the expense for the reliance on trips in the car, pulp and paper, then we’re looking at this from the wrong angle. Additionally, they make a solid case that the study’s findings are “many times too high.” Even better, TechNewsWorld let Wissner-Gross defend his work and revealed that his study mentioned nothing of Google. He set the record straight stating that his research focuses exclusively on the Web overall and denied having any idea where the kettle statistic came from.

The article implied the study’s statistics compared the estimated 7g CO2 emission from a Web search to that of boiling a kettle full of water at 12g. I don’t know about you, but I can say confidently that the ROI of my average Web search is much higher than that of making a cup of tea. If I’m made to choose, I’ll stick with Google.

Don’t believe this? Go ahead. Google it.

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