Daily Archives: January 12, 2009

Google Products

Google searches that cost the earth

You might have already seen this story, it seems to be getting lots of coverage: Alex Wissner-Gross, a Havard University academic, has claimed that doing two searches on Google produces the same amount of CO2 as boiling a kettle.

He arrived at CO2 figure of 7g per search by adding up the energy that both your computer AND Google’s servers consume. In order to deliver rapid search results, Google operate many data centres. These are large air-conditioned warehouses full of servers that require huge amounts of power.

For a company who claims to ‘do no evil’, its obviously not the best bit of PR, and Google have been quick to dispute the figures. On their official blog they say that the figures are “many times too high”. They put the figure at something more like 0.2g of CO2 per search.

They also claim to be at the forefront of reducing the level of CO2 emissions from IT equipment. They co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a non-profit consortium committed energy reduction.

Webeden.co.uk are also keen to reduce the impact of CO2 emissions. We can’t quite claim as many servers as Google (yet), but what we do have produces plenty of CO2. . We’ve carbon offset the emissions from our website by signing up to coco2.org. Of course carbon offsetting itself is a bit of a disputed issue; its better to either get your power from a green source, or use no power at all. The latter isn’t a great option for us as we’d have to shut down!

What do you think? Leave a comment below

13.1.08. Additional: It has emerged that the Wissner-Gross, the physicist at the heart of the story, has been misquoted. The story originally emerged in The Times. The whole kettle boiling reference and 7 grams per search came from another story (but Wissner-Gross doesn’t quite know where), and in the original article it only makes it sound like his data.

He said he did make a statement, including “A Google search has a definite environmental impact”, but hasn’t put a figure on that.

After finding out about the story, he claims to have contacted The Times, and was reassured that the article would be corrected. It hasn’t been yet…

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Email data to be stored by ISPs

There’s an interesting story being covered by lots of sites including the BBC about new rules that force ISPs keep customer email data for a year.

From March this year, all ISPs will have to store information about EVERY email that you send or receive!

Lots of people are up in arms about this including human rights group Liberty. ISPs themselves aren’t too happy about, according to the Internet Service Providers association. Its going to cost too, estimates ranging between £25m and £70m

The Home Office – of course –are saying that this is a vital part of combating crime and terror.

The law comes in on March the 15th as part of a European commission directive. Some reports indicate that the government have even more plans for retaining data: Its called the Interception Modernisation Programme. This will be some sort of enormous database which will include details on every text, email, and phone call made or received, and every website visited.

What we really want to know is where are they going to store all that information? More than three billion emails are sent every day in the UK, so someone is going to have to start buying servers pretty soon!

What do you think – are you bothered about the government having the potential to snoop on your personal text and email relations? Leave us a comment below.

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