Using Google to conduct two web searches produces the same amount of carbon emissions as boiling a kettle, says a US physicist.
Resarch by Alex Wissner-Gross, who is also a Harvard University academic, revealed that using a PC to conduct one Google search generates 7g of carbon dioxide and two searches is equal to the 14g of carbon dioxide produced when boiling a kettle with enough water for one cup of tea. With two million internet searches taking place every day, the carbon emissions are beginning to mount up.
Gross says the carbon emissions are from the electricity used by the PC and from the several Google data banks across the globe that provide the answers to a search query. Gross adds that because Google uses several data banks for each query, it's generating more carbon dioxide than other search engines.
However, Google has rubbished these claims. The search engine says it has "the most energy efficient datacentres in the world" and the carbon dixoide figure is "many times" too high.
"Queries vary in degree of difficulty, but for the average query, the servers it touches each work on it for just a few thousandths of a second. Together with other work performed before your search even starts (such as building the search index) this amounts to 0.0003 kWh of energy per search or 1 kJ," the company claims in a blog.
"In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2," Google said.
The researchers claim that Google's search engine generates high levels of CO2 because of the way it operates. When you type in a Google search the request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other.
According to industry analysts Gartner, the global IT industry generates as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about two percent of global CO2 emissions.