Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate the same amount of harmful carbon dioxide as boiling an electric kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research quoted Sunday.
A typical search generates about seven grammes of CO2 whereas an electric kettle generates about 15 gm, The Sunday Times quoted a Harvard University physicist as saying.
“A Google search has a definite environmental impact,” says Alex Wissner-Gross, whose research due out soon.
The newspaper said Google is “secretive” about its energy comsumption and carbon footprint, and refuses to divulge the locations of its data centres.
“However, with 200 million internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern,” the newspaper said.
A recent report by information technology analysts Gartner said the global IT industry generates as much greenhouse gas - which contribute to global warming - as the airlines industry.
The Google system, which sends search queries to several competing servers that may be thousands of miles apart, “minimises delays but raises energy consumption".
Wissner-Gross has submitted his research for publication by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and has set up a website www.CO2stats.com .
“Google 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,” the physicist said.
Google said, “We are among the most efficient of all internet search providers.”