How green is your Google search?

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Oh jeez. As if you needed another reason to feel guilty about being un-green, a Harvard University physicist has now said that doing one Google search from a desktop computer generates about 7g of CO2. Yesterday’s article in the UK’s Times Online compares that to boiling a tea kettle, which generates about 15g.

Not surprisingly, Google has already issued a blog entry debunking the calculation. Google says performing a typical Google search generates only 0.2g of CO2. The blog post also notes that using Google can save users from “traveling to the reference desk of your local library…decreasing our reliance on car trips, pulp and paper.”

But Google isn’t the only offender.

Times: “Wissner-Gross has also calculated the CO2 emissions caused by individual use of the internet. His research indicates that viewing a simple web page generates about 0.02g of CO2 per second. This rises tenfold to about 0.2g of CO2 a second when viewing a website with complex images, animations or videos.”

And if that didn’t make you feel bad enough, Google really drove the point home: “[T]he energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query.” Turn the knife, Google. Turn the knife.

Google continued to elaborate on how it is always working on new ways to stay green, including its Climate Saving Computing Initiative (co-founded by Google in 2007), which hopes to cut the energy consumed by computers in half by 2010.

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