The Official Google Blog has some interesting information about the environmental impact of web searching compared with other everyday activities.
There's been a lot of debate lately about the growing amount of energy needed to power the Internet, and we wanted to weigh in on the discussion. A few months ago, I first blogged about the about amount of energy used in one Google search. Our engineers crunched the numbers and found that an average query uses about 1 kJ of energy and emits about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide. But those raw numbers don't really put the environmental impact of searching the Internet into perspective. To add some context, below is data about the C02 impact of some everyday activities and items compared to Google searching:
|CO2 emissions of an average daily newspaper (PDF) (100% recycled paper)||850|
|A glass of orange juice||1,050|
|One load of dishes in an EnergyStar dishwasher (PDF)||5,100|
|A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile||10,000|
|Electricity consumed by the average U.S. household in one month||3,100,000|
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For a more detailed discussion of the energy question, check out David MacKay's book Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. The Guardian called it "a text that could revolutionise popular thinking about our future energy needs and how we could supply them". You can download it for free from withoutair.com.