Ooops! Harvard Scientist Says Google Carbon Footprint Figures Are Wrong

Ooops! Harvard Scientist Says Google Carbon Footprint Figures Are Wrong

In my blog yesterday, I quoted a report that said a Harvard physicist found that a single Google search generates 7g of CO2, about half the amount of carbon dioxide generated when you boil a kettle of water for tea. It turns out that the report is wrong --- he never said anything of the sort.

My blog quoted the UK's Sunday Times as saying that Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist studying the environmental impacts of computing, had done the calculations about how much CO2 is generated by a Google search.

Today, though, the story has been debunked. Jason Kincaid, in TechCrunch, says that Alex Wissner-Gross never made that calculation. Kincaid writes:
For starters, he says he would never refer to any sort of measurement having to do with tea (he’d go with coffee). But his findings have nothing to do with Google as a company, either - they’re concerned with much more generalized stats, like your computer’s rate of CO2 production when you look at a webpage.
As I wrote yesterday, Google disputed the Times' claim. The Official Google Blog said that "one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2" and that
the 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.
So feel free once again to do Google searches without guilt.
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