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Counting the environmental impact of Google searches

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

Sunday, January 11, 2009
13 years ago3,200 views

"Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea"


""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.
...." continues Mr. Wissner-Gross

[Typo fixed – Tony]

George R [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

The below is from the Times story.

"Google's unique infrastructure replicates queries across multiple servers, which then compete to provide the fastest answer to your query."

From what I understand a number of computers may be involved in processing a search request, but they each perform a different function.
Has anyone heard from a more authoritative source that google redundantly processes each query on multiple servers?

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

A non-google related issue; I got stressed when I read all the comments and on top of that I finally understood why america didn't sign the kyoto protocol. In other words, check the comments in the earlier mentioned article. It really messes your ideas of the americans up.

[put at-character here]George, the times got there technical details wrong various times in the history (I remember twice that the newssite (dutch) got into a small mess because of that), so it may be very likely untrue that the same query is processed various times.

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Google's response (Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Operations):

In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, but most cars don't reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those of in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

Luca [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

here is an italian version of the article..

take a look at the fancy image the newspaper createt for the article..

FringeStream [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

[moved from "Researcher Claims Two Google Searches Produces Same CO2 as Boiling Tea Water (What The F!!!)". Thanks James Xuan! -Philipp]

That's according to a Harvard researcher measuring the CO2 output of several Google servers "competing against each other" to return search results super-quickly. Check out the Times of London article for a (really) detailed explanation

George R [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

A story by Andy Patrizio at the internetnews says that Alex Wissner-Gross's, a princilple source of the Times story, disagrees with it.

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