Google and greenhouse gases

Did you ever wonder how much greenhouse gases Internet  users generate? I didn’t,couldn’t care, till I happened  by this post by blogger James Crabtree.  He says he is  confused by what he read in the media – that two Google  searches from your desktop could generate as much carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea. 

Interesting thought.  But could that be true ?  And blogger Crabtree,  presumably,   put the kettle on  as he e-mailed his friend at Google.  This blogger believes in getting to the bottom of  it.  And the British usually use up a cuppa or two as they get on with it.  If Googling was environmnetally  problematic,  what about CO2 emissions from loads of other online activites? 

Thus, rose a  storm in the tea cup.  Set   off by a report in The  Sunday Times, London;  stirred up by  blogger Crabtree ,  it  gathered velocity as  Google’s rapid rebuttal team   got  into the act.   Their response – One Google search emits 0.2 grams of  CO2.

Putting it in perspective, an average car driven for a km generates as much greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches. Other interesting,  if widely ignored,  data Google  trotted out are:

A typical Google search takes less than  0.2 seconds.  In terms of greenhouse emission one G-search equals 0.2 grams of CO2.

Google data centres process 200 million searches daily.  A search query goes to Google servers in the US,  Europe, Japan and China.

The EU standard for tailpipe emission is 140gms. CO2 per km. But most cars don’t reach this level.

Viewing a web page we generate 0.02gm. CO2 per second; keeping the PC on produces 40 to 80 gm. per hour.

An industry analyst cited in the media   says  the IT sector generates as much gas  as world airlines industry – 2 percent of global CO2 emission. Google, they say,  has every search sent simultaneously to all its servers, instead of routing it to the nearest one. The idea is to be the fastest with results – 0.2 second per search.

Anyway,  such knowledge about Internet usage and  greenhouse gas emission is unlikely to change the way we  use the Net.  If anything, computer and broadband usage can  be said to be next in line  for  exponential growth in India (after the cell phone revolution that is).

Speaking of an Inconvenient Truth  ,  I wonder if  anyone keeping count  of CO2 emissions from the Israeli bombardment in Gaza ?


Of the gun factor and Seshan Effect

I have known Dr. Javeed Nayeem as a social activist, student of Mysore’s folk-history, book-lover, coffee-planter, Star of Mysore columnist, a Haji and, of course, as a reputed cardiologist. His latest column however shows him up as a gun-lobbist. I wouldn’t associate him, though, with die-hard crusaders of US gun lobby. Would suggest he read – Guns and Losses – by B S Prakash, India’s consul general in San Francisco.

Dr.Nayeem’s gun-talk stems from the poll time humiliation that a section of law-abiding citizens have to go through, for the ‘fault’ of owning licensed guns. They are required to deposit them at the local police station during the election process. This ‘revolutionary’ measure was thought of by former chief election commissioner T N Seshan, a ‘sabre-rattler, given to theatrics’. These are Dr Nayeem’s words, not mine, though I wish they were.

The Seshan Effect continues to cast its shadow still; it has gone into the rulebook, as a pre-poll sanitising measure. What is worse, as Dr Nayeem puts it, “we have all shamelessly tolerated it without a whisper or a whimper” all this while. His point is:

1) The gun, especially a licensed one, has never played a role in any poll in Karnataka.
2) When all and sundry, ‘the bad and the ugly’, come to know that weapons owned by law-abiding residents are safely locked away in police stations during election time, they take it as an open invitation to ‘make hay as soon as the sun sets’ over the Chamundi Hills. Isolated bungalows, farm-houses and outlying residental layouts are particularly vulnerable.
3) The police can’t be everywhere; and during election time they tend to be ‘nowhere’, presumably, under pressure of campaign bandobast.
4) Gun licences come at a hefty price; and a handgun, says Dr Nayeem, is literally worth its weight in gold. He reckons that police stations are certainly not the place where licensed weapons should be tossed around. Priceless ones are known to have been ‘misplaced, replaced, or even lost while in police custody’.

He would like to see public opinion moblised to persuade the three wisemen in the election office to see reason. And towards this end, columinist Nayeem is prepared to go beyond his ‘Over a Cup of Evening Tea’ column in Star of Mysore . He invites you to a cuppa of the real stuff, this Sunday evening at King’s Kourt.
Mail (or nail) him on this at or call 9880179722