Google: 15,000 searches as green as a cheeseburger


Running 15,000 Google searches unleashes the same amount of carbon emissions on the world as eating a cheeseburger, Google has claimed.

Back in January, a since rubbished report in the Times claimed that every two Google searches creates as much CO2 as boiling a kettle. Even the scientist behind the quoted Harvard study disputed that claim he never mentioned Google in his research but he did find that visiting a website creates 20 milligrams of carbon emissions per second.

Now, Google has followed up with statistics of its own. Urs Hlzle, senior vice president of operations, wrote on Google's blog that an average search creates about 0.2 grams (200 milligrams) of carbon dioxide after using 1kJ of energy.

According to Hlzle, that means 850 searches creates as many emissions as a daily newspaper, while 1,050 queries will buy you a glass of orange juice. Driving five miles in an American car creates as much CO2 as 10,000 searches, while a chesseburger is worth a whopping 15,000 Google searches.

Hlzle claimed Google has cut the energy used in its own data centres by half, claiming the search giant uses half the energy to run its data centres as the rest of the industry.

"This efficiency means that in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will likely use more energy than we will use to answer your query," he claimed.

While he warned that increasing use of technoloy and gadgets means more power is needed to run it all, he noted that IT saves energy in other ways. Citing a study by the Climate Group, Hlzle claimed that IT emissions "pay for themselves" by cutting CO2 creation in other areas.

"After all, it's much more efficient to move electrons than to move atoms," he said. "Virtual tools like email, video-conferencing, and search engines replace more carbon-intensive activities like snail mail, business travel, and driving."

Click here for our top 10 tips for green IT.