Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time?
By Alex Roslin, For Postmedia News June 3, 2011 Comments (106)
Every Facebook update and LOL cat you post contributes to global warming, due to the server industry's dependence on coal-fired electricity.
It's Saturday night, and you want to catch the latest summer blockbuster. You do a quick Google search to find the venue and right time, and off you go to enjoy some mindless fun.
Meanwhile, your Internet search has just helped kill the planet. Depending on how long you took and what sites you visited, your search caused the emission of one to 10 grams of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
Sure, it's not a lot on its own — but add up all of the more than one billion daily Google searches, throw in 60 million Facebook status updates each day, 50 million daily tweets and 250 billion emails per day, and you're making a serious dent in some Greenland glaciers.
The Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world. We save on paper and mailing by sending an email. We can telecommute instead of driving to work. We can have a meeting by teleconference instead of flying to another city.
Ironically, despite the web's green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet's fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world's electricity.