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Google searches can generate the same amount of CO2 as boiling a kettleBy Paul Thompson
Last updated at 11:44 PM on 11th January 2009
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Carrying out two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate-about the same amount of carbon dioxide-as boiling a kettle, say U.S.
A typical search produces about 7grams of CO2 compared with 15grams for a kettle.
During a Google search, several servers, which can be thousands of miles apart, compete to return the results fastest.
Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard physicist, said: 'Their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that
A new study has revealed that 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
And it is the accuracy and speed of Google, the world's most used internet search engine, that is responsible for generating a larger carbon
footprint because of its energy and electricity use.
When a computer user taps an inquiry into Google, such as "how to save energy", the request does not go to one server but to several that are miles
The servers compete against each other to return the search results in the quickest time.
The US company has more than 450,000 servers based around the world to process the demand of more than 200 million inquiries every day.
Google, whose headquarters are in San Jose, has more than 450,000 servers based around the world to process the demand of more than 200 million
inquiries every day
Google's infrastructure sends data from whichever produces the answer fastest.
According to Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard physicist who has studied the impact on the environment by Google, the distance between the servers - which
can be thousands of miles apart - burns up more energy.
"A Google search has a definite environmental impact," said Wissner-Gross.
"Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power.
"They are very efficient but their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy."
Google, whose headquarters - known as the Googleplex - are near San Jose, California, insist they do as much as possible to reduce their carbon
But the company has never revealed its energy consumption or carbon footprint.
A spokesman for Google said:" We are among the most efficient of all internet search providers."
Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have grown one of the world's most successful companies with last year profits over £4billion
Wissnier-Gross, who runs a website - www.CO2stats.com - says Google is very efficient, but adds: "Its primary concern is to make searches fast and
that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy."
A separate analysis by John Buckley, of carbonfootprint.com, a British environmental website, put the CO2 emissions of a Google search at between 1g
The findings show up for the first time the environmental impact of computer and internet use.
According to Gartner, an American research firm, IT use around the world now causes about two per cent of global CO2 emissions.
The carbon footprint from computer use now exceeds that of the aviation industry.
In the UK almost 90 per cent of all computer users tap into Google to make search inquiries.
The verb "to Google" was admitted into the Oxford English dictionary in 2007, such is the popularity of the search engine.
Since the company was started ten years ago by Stanford University students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google has grown into one of the world's
most successful companies.
Last year its profits were over £4billion and the name Google is one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
The company name is a play on the word googol, which refers to the number 1