Googling and Climate Change
You can plant trees, champion environmentalism and recycle paper but a simple Google search can reverse all your good work, says a research conducted by U.S. physicist Alex Wissner-Gross. According to the study, a typical Google search consumes approximately seven grammes of CO2.
While this may not sound like a large amount, scientists request us to remember the sheer number of people conducting Google searches on an average day, a figure they place at 200 million. The carbon emissions include those of the computer on which the search is being conducted and the power consumed by the large and numerous data centres Google uses. Google positions itself as one of the fastest search engines, a fact scientists attribute to its vast network of data banks, all contributing to the carbon emissions. Earlier studies have estimated that the global IT sector generates as much greenhouse gas as all the world’s airlines put together.
While Google claims that they have developed the most energy efficient software to cope with the growing demand for computers, Heap Media, an Australian company which designs online programmes, feels they have an answer to the problem through ‘Blackle’, a search engine they say will be effective in reducing carbon emissions. The page looks similar to a Google search page and queries are channeled through Google. Its advantage lies in its predominantly black screen as opposed to Google’s open spaced white page. The company claims that black pixels take less power than white, thereby reducing the carbon emitted by conducting a search. Google has challenged the proposition arguing that the theory is relevant to old-style CRT monitors but not flat screen monitors that are the norm today.