Yesterday, I, like other bloggers and news organizations, mentioned a story about how Google impacts the Earth. (See my News Nybbles) Well, as it turns out, the source of the story, the Times of London, was, shall we say, a bit misleading. In the story (here) they seemingly quote a young physicist by the name Alex Wissner-Gross. He claims that he never once claimed that ‘performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea.’ Apparently, the article alludes to him saying this, but he never did. Well, actually, the byline does say that he said that. He says that he contacted the Times of London and they assured him that it would be corrected on Sunday. It was not.
Regardless of the quote and who actually said it, the article is right about one thing: Google does use energy. A lot of it. But, then again, I’m sure that the Times of London is far from ‘green’. If they still publish a paper edition, and I’m pretty sure they do, then they use tons of paper and expensive ink. It takes quite a bit of power to run those presses, power the computers for putting the paper together, the trucks to move the finished papers to retail and subscribers, etc. You get the idea.
If the author of the article intended to single out Google, then I have to ask why. I suspect it was to get eyeballs. Was the choice of Google simply because they are the big guns? Google is specifically mentioned through out the article. What about Yahoo!? Surely, it has a large foot print as well. Microsoft? This is the company that had to add servers to support a three gigabyte download to thousands of people so they could show off the next version of Windows. That, certainly, had more impact on the Earth than two Google searches. I exaggerate, but, really, isn’t that what this article did as well?
If nothing else, the article DID get us talking about carbon footprints and the possible contribution to global warming all in the quest for knowledge about Brittney Spears. After all, we MUST know this stuff.