Confusion reigns over Google CO2 claims

Posted on Jan 14 2009 - 10:41am by David Gray

agoogle.jpgThe Times newspaper in the UK recently ran an article on the environment which suggested that 7 tonnes of CO2 emissions were produced for every 1 million searches on search engine giant Google. The report was accredited to Harvard University physicist Alex Wissner-Gross who carried out the research behind CO2 production in relation to the Internet. Having been seen by many as a green and environmentally friendly workplace, this research note casts doubt on the green aspect of online activity.

However, the last 24 hours have seen the physicist involved in the research note clarify the situation regarding Google and suggest that the Times newspaper “put words in his mouth” and seemed to have an axe to grind against the search engine giant. He refuted the allegations that he suggested that 7 tonnes of CO2 were produced per 1 million searches on Google and claims that he has never specified any particular search engine.

The research note does however open up an interesting debate about CO2 emissions and the environment in relation to online activity and the online marketplace. Google has responded to the claims by suggesting that one search generates just 0.2 g of CO2 which is far less than the figure suggested above. It would appear that we have not heard the last of this particular spat which has the potential to grow arms and legs and last for some time yet.

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