Many people don't realize that many of our favorite cyber-spaces have real-life homes, which means that running websites has a real-world environmental footprint. Files are stored on servers, viewed by personal computers, and connected via networks. To operate these components, electricity must be consumed. And to generate much of that electricity, fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are usually being burned. To put it into perspective, 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 revealed in the London Times Online (they would be just the news source to compare CO2 emissions to tea-kettle boiling)...
We've blogged our concern about the environmental impact of server farms before, but never has anybody actually taken the time to localize the issue and estimate the exact effect our innocent little Google searches have.
While millions of otherwise green-friendly people tap into Google without considering the madre Earth around them, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2; boiling a kettle generates about 15g.
As a consumer of the internets (one or all of them), you can make a difference. Over the years, Internet users have used their powers of persuasion to motivate e-commerce sites to present badges certifying that their credit card processing systems are secure. Savvy users even know to watch for certification that sites they visit are safe from hacker attacks and that have audited privacy policies to protect their identities. Websites now need to be put under pressure to clean up their environmental impacts too and demonstrate that their sites are as green as they can be.
[ Image from World Amazing Information ]