Friday, February 22, 2008

Google warming

Friday, 22 February

Did you ever think about the carbon footprint of your last Google search?

Consider this from the latest issue of Sierra: "Google is hunting for cheap renewable energy....The Internet powerhouse is investing millions in solar, wind, and geothermal technology, with the aim of generating a gigawatt of renewable energy that is cheaper than coal. A gigawatt is enough to power a city the size of San Francisco or three of Google's energy-sucking data centers."

Google is usually pretty silent on the subject of those "energy-sucking data centers"--where they are, how much energy they suck, how many there are. But if just one takes the power of one-third of San Francisco, well, in unproprietary layman's terms, that's a lot of electricity.

Giga- is a prefix meaning one billion, a 1 followed by 9 zeroes. A googol is equal to a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. I hadn't realized that Google's name is an apt reference to the amount of electricity it consumes.

So, what's the carbon offset for my next Google search: Geelong Tour?

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