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Net Impact on the Environment

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

You’re bored and so you flip on your computer or phone and start randomly searching on Google, YouTube or any other site that may tickle your fancy. Well, it turns out that this mindless, digital clicking has an environmental impact that may have never entered your mind.

Numbers for Thought

The next time you enjoy a video of a dancing cat or someone’s attempt at comedy keep these numbers in mind.

According to Fast CoExist:

  • One Google search is the same amount of CO2 released while driving a car 3 inches
  • About 5,000 Google searches releases as much CO2 as 1 cycle of a dishwasher
  • 1,500 Google searches equates a CO2 release of cooking a cheeseburger

Triple Pundit reports on Harvard physicist Alex Wissner-Gross 2009 calculations of individual Google searches, stating that,

  • Every second someone is browsing a simple web site, roughly 20 milligrams of CO2 are generated. Comparably, an air-freighted orange generates 1kg, or one million milligrams, of carbon emissions.
  • 35 billion minutes are logged online every month from users around the world, according to data compiled earlier this year by Go-Gulf.com.
  • According to anti-virus software firm McAfee, the electricity used to transmit the trillions of spam sent over the course of one year is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power more than two million homes. Simultaneously, the carbon output equates to that of three million cars.
  • The global IT industry generates as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines according to research firm Gartner.

Dirty Clouds

Energy source transparency is creating better attempts at less coal reliance and more renewable choices such as solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cells for data storage. However, in a 2012 article by Network World there was a response to a report by Greenpeace titled, ‘How Clean is Your Cloud?’.

In the report it was alleged that Apple scored as one of the lowest companies to embrace renewable energy sources to power their data storage facilities. Since the report Apple claimed,

“60 percent of the power will be eventually delivered on-site from a solar farm and fuel-cell installation "which will each be the largest in the country.”

Amazon and Microsoft scored even lower on the scale citing that coal and nuclear energy were their major go-to sources and Twitter suspiciously did not share their energy source info at all.

Therefore, choose your cloud storage company wisely making sure that it uses a majority of renewable green energy sources as a power choice.

The Nuts and Bolts

Before you even power up your computer, the manufacturing end of bringing you Internet service is a major energy draw.

Basic production, packaging and transportation of servers creates enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, each time a search engine is used, greenhouse gases are also emitted because instantaneous information requires multiple servers fired up 24/7.

Most of these environmental culprits come from unclean coal emissions, however there is also fossil fuel output using continued air, sea and ground computer part transport as well as constant climate controlled atmospheres to keep servers cool.


There is hope to lessen the environmental impact of our voracious digital appetite. Big Corp Co's, like Apple, have since complied by slowly switching over to renewable sources. Also, reduction of fossil fuel output is rising with more working from home options as well as video conferencing. Plus, more green office options are being implemented every day.

Overall, as advanced as we all may feel, we are still embroiled in a ‘Digital Wild West’ that  needs fine tuning when it comes to energy, security and basic social etiquette. In due time we will advance to the next level of digital enlightenment, but until then it will take concerted green efforts to get there.


This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Save Energy, Your Green Business and was tagged with Apple, coal, emissions, ENERGY EFFICIENT, google, green enery, green news, internet, solar, the cloud, wind


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