Googling Harms the Earth?

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Google's unofficial motto is "Don't be evil." But by tempting people to search for information, the company causes people to sin ecologically by adding to gases to atmosphere that exacerbate man-made global warming. The Times (U.K.) reports:

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. 

But Google is not sinning alone: 

Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch, Rewiring the World, has calculated that maintaining a character (known as an avatar) in the Second Life virtual reality game, requires 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian. 

Whole Times article here

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  1. Take that, Earth!

  2. Thanks for keeping all five people who haven’t seen this story yet informed.

  3. Wait … How many is in a Brazilian?

  4. In other words, humans are a virus.
    I feel so dangerous now!

  5. This of course neglects any net savings that occurs, since gathering information no longer requires:

    1) Driving to a place of records (library, etc.)
    2) Getting a newspaper delivered
    3) Production of large texts
    4) Hours of research time
    5) etc. etc.

    Now granted, many searches are frivolous, but I honestly wonder if this is just a shifting of energy usage from transportation, record keeping etc., to the data center.

  6. “Thanks for keeping all five people who haven’t seen this story yet informed.”

    Now get to work informing the internet denizens who haven’t figured out what a useless tool Lonewacko is. There must still be a couple of them around somewhere, even with the tireless efforts of Urkobold.

  7. There oughtta be a law . . .

  8. If one is so inclined,…

    http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/11/2126200

    (slashdot discussion on the same topic)

    Sorry… I don’t know if html or bulletin board codes work here, so I am just submitting the link as plain text.

  9. Really!?

    Wait… how big of a kettle?

  10. OLS,

    I didn’t even see you there. Tunnelvision is a bitch.

    LONEWACKO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *shakes fist in air*

  11. Cool Cal | January 12, 2009, 3:00pm | #

    Wait … How many is in a Brazilian?

    FTW…

  12. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit.

    Boiling about 6oz of tea in theory takes about 450kJ of energy, equivalent to .1 kW-h. Assuming the average google search takes about .01 seconds, that means it takes 18MW of power to power that one search.

    I think this is just lazy opinion columns playing with large numbers they know nothing about.

  13. Nihixul: You evil person–think how much CO2 you’re causing people to produce by tempting them to click over to slashdot when they could spare the earth more by staying here at H&R! 😉

  14. 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian.

    That must be some very hot wax.

  15. If a responsible government had given us Google then this would not be a problem. The Cubans lead a great life with much less.

  16. Agree, googling twice in no way is even close to the energy it takes to boil water. They are orders of magnitude in difference. What a phenomenally stupid statement.

    It does however make me feel more inclined to make frivolous searches in the off chance that it might be the slightest bit evil. I’m not sure why minor-evils excite me, I must be a bad person. I think I’ll ask Google.

  17. Am I supposed to be feeling guilty about making tea? Because I don’t. So there!

  18. I read the article and the guy calculated and added in 15 minutes of computer up-time for each search, and also considered if you have to START YOUR COMPUTER to do the search. Please.
    Like who’s really going to go to their computer, turn it on, do 2 google searches for 30 minutes, and then turn it off.

  19. maintaining a character (known as an avatar) in the Second Life virtual reality game, requires 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian.

    How much do you think I could charge the Second Lifers to assassinate “carbon offset” a Brazilian?

  20. Thanks for the info! I’m off to google every word in the dictionary now.

  21. Teacher says that every time you google “a bell rings,” an angel dies from CO2 poisoning.

  22. Reminds me of this full-page ad I saw long ago. Went like this:

    A GLASS OF MILK HAS THE SAME FAT AS NINE STRIPS OF BACON!!*

    * assuming whole milk, and bacon strips with 1g fat

  23. This story is killing the planet!

  24. your teacher’s full of snot!

    (1000 points if you can get the reference)

  25. I would be willing to “carbon offset” Californians for a discounted group rate.

  26. Rocko’s Modern Life?

    I googled that answer, so….. ::shakes fist at phalkor:: That was your cunning plan all along, wasn’t it?

  27. JW – I did the same thing. I’m going to light a fart on fire and maybe burn down a tree later.

  28. “That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian.”

    Awesome!

  29. bwhahahahahaha!

    I mean 1000 points to JW! Thank you for helping the planet die a little faster, please google again.

  30. “Teacher says that every time you google “a bell rings,” an angel dies from CO2 poisoning.”

    A very good reason for keeping religion out of the classroom (e.g., “climate change”)

  31. I couldn’t begin to imagine the amount of CO2 released by a WoW player.

    And no, I don’t mean from a steady diet of frozen burritos Mountain Dew.

  32. Lost_In_Translation | January 12, 2009, 3:14pm | #
    I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit.

    Boiling about 6oz of tea in theory takes about 450kJ of energy, equivalent to .1 kW-h. Assuming the average google search takes about .01 seconds, that means it takes 18MW of power to power that one search.

    I think this is just lazy opinion columns playing with large numbers they know nothing about.

    I am going to assume you meant mW (milliwatt), not MW(megawatt).

    You are right though. Assume a single query uses 850 servers to process in .01 second (from this article on Google Data Centers) and the average modern processor uses 80W of power at full throttle (from here), a rough back of the napkin calculation shows ((850*80)/100) = 680 joules per query. Nowhere near the 450kJ required for the tea.

    Of course, it has been a long time since I had to do any energy equations so this may be fubared. If there is a physicist handy that would be so kind as to check my work, I’d appreciate it.

  33. That’s why I have plants in my home. You know, to offset my google searches.

    I like to think of my plant stand as “carbon credits”.

  34. This is but another example of why the government must nationalize the interwebs.

  35. How many Brazilians does it take to power a lightbulb?

  36. A GLASS OF MILK HAS THE SAME FAT AS NINE STRIPS OF BACON!!*

    Shit, I should be eating more bacon.

  37. Internet p0rn will kill us all!!!!

  38. How many Brazilians does it take to power a lightbulb?

    It depends on how you harvest their energy. With open flame, twelve. Much less with one of those Star Trek disintegration booths.

  39. Kwix,

    Just so you understand, I was back calculating the power needed to produce 450kJ of energy in 0.01 sec (or 0.02sec for 2 searches). That came out to 18MegaWatt usage. If you think about it that way, its rediculous to think boiling a cup of tea and google search are anyway near as comparable.

  40. Freedom of information is just as high on our controllers hit list as the freedom of movement and every other freedom that energy use entails us.

  41. I just killed four average Brazilians by reading this thread. Damn you CO2!!

  42. That settles it. I am going to build a Hemi powered Google to get the best of both worlds. Thinking around 650 HP should do it.

    LIT,

    I almost jumped at that 18MW idea but the biggest power supply I ever had in a computer was just 1KW (SGI Crimson).

  43. Joel,

    They use Metric in Brazil, so I think your numbers might be off.

  44. Guess its time to start carbon trading on SL. Great Business opportunities! 😉

  45. fpk,

    And how many carbons are your carbon trading negotiations going to generate? You’ll be revising carbons by the nanosecond. Oops, in typing out this, I’ve probably busted your latest SL carbon trading scheme and if you read this, you’re already in the hole for more. We’re DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!! (TM Warren)

  46. Good thing I save all of my Google searches as text files at home so I get a cup of tea carbon offset every time I need to look something up again.

    Oh yea, I forgot, I will be using organic hydrgen (C8H18) in the Hemi so even more carbon offsets for me!

    Anybody looking to buy some?

  47. CO2 is going to kill us all. It is an extremely dangerous pollutant and should not be fucked with.

  48. What this means is that if I check http://www.leiasmetalbikini.com for new updates once every day, but for some reason they haven’t posted any new slave photos since at least July, then I’ve destroyed a portion of the rainforest equivalent in area to New Hampshire*, and FOR NOTHING! Darn that never-updating-anymore, planet-destroying site!

    *Completely made up, but, you know.

  49. Ha ha ha.

    See what happens when you search for monkey sniffing finger! You kill a Fern!

  50. 1.7MWH, retail, is hundreds of dollars of electricity. Does it cost hundreds of dollars a year to maintain an SL avatar? And if it doesn’t, is there some way I can not play SL, as a business, and capture some portion of the underfunding?

  51. 2 cups of water=16 oz or abpout 1 lb. To heat one lb. water from 60 deg. F to 212 deg F is 152 BTU. Actual bpoiling takes quite a few more BTU, which we’ll ignore. Assume 1 billion google searches a day, which is probably an underestimate. That’s 152 X 10exp9 BTU, or about 4.45 X 10exp7 KWH. That’s a huge number. At $.08 KW hour, that’s $3,560,000 a day in electricity for just google searches. I don’t think so.

  52. What ridiculous pseudo science.

  53. monkey sniffing finger! I forgot about that one – killing ferns by the dozen…

  54. I’ll stop Googling when the British stop drinking hot water(tea).

  55. What about the World of Warcraft? My ponzi guild of craftswomen…will saving Azeroth destroy the Earth?

  56. That’s why I have plants in my home. You know, to offset my google searches.

    I use mine to enhance my googling. Since they are destined to be burned anyway, I figure they are carbon neutral at best.

  57. @Ron Bailey:

    Actually, I was hoping they would google “slashdot.org” first (twice! just to be sure!), and then go there.

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