Author Topic: Computing and your carbon footprint.  (Read 3209 times)

BridgeTroll

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Computing and your carbon footprint.
« on: January 12, 2009, 01:08:13 PM »
I found this article interesting if you are a user of technology and trying to be green.  Here are a couple of links within the article...  www.CO2stats.com, www.carbonfootprint.com

http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5489134.ece

Quote
Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches

Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of teaJonathan Leake and Richard Woods
Click here for how to reduce the footprint of the Web | Google's response to the story

Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research.

While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.”

Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centres. However, with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern. A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about 2% of global CO2 emissions. “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.

Tech Central: Google's response
Though Google says it is in the forefront of green computing, its search engine generates high levels of CO2 because of the way it operates. When you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips”, your request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other.

It may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. Google’s infrastructure sends you data from whichever produces the answer fastest. The system minimises delays but raises energy consumption. Google has servers in the US, Europe, Japan and China.

Wissner-Gross has submitted his research for publication by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and has also set up a website www.CO2stats.com. “Google are very efficient but their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy,” he said.

Google said: “We are among the most efficient of all internet search providers.”

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.

A separate estimate from John Buckley, managing director of carbonfootprint.com, a British environmental consultancy, puts the CO2 emissions of a Google search at between 1g and 10g, depending on whether you have to start your PC or not. Simply running a PC generates between 40g and 80g per hour, he says. of CO2 Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, estimates the carbon emissions of a Google search at 7g to 10g (assuming 15 minutes’ computer use).

Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch, Rewiring the World, has calculated that maintaining a character (known as an avatar) in the Second Life virtual reality game, requires 1,752 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is almost as much used by the average Brazilian.

“It’s not an unreasonable comparison,” said Liam Newcombe, an expert on data centres at the British Computer Society. “It tells us how much energy westerners use on entertainment versus the energy poverty in some countries.”

Though energy consumption by computers is growing - and the rate of growth is increasing - Newcombe argues that what matters most is the type of usage.

If your internet use is in place of more energy-intensive activities, such as driving your car to the shops, that’s good. But if it is adding activities and energy consumption that would not otherwise happen, that may pose problems.

Newcombe cites Second Life and Twitter, a rapidly growing website whose 3m users post millions of messages a month. Last week Stephen Fry, the TV presenter, was posting “tweets” from New Zealand, imparting such vital information as “Arrived in Queenstown. Hurrah. Full of bungy jumping and ‘activewear’ shops”, and “Honestly. NZ weather makes UK look stable and clement”.

Jonathan Ross was Twittering even more, with posts such as “Am going to muck out the pigs. It will be cold, but I’m not the type to go on about it” and “Am now back indoors and have put on fleecy tracksuit and two pairs of socks”. Ross also made various “tweets” trying to ascertain whether Jeremy Clarkson was a Twitter user or not. Yesterday the Top Gear presenter cleared up the matter, saying: “I am not a twit. And Jonathan Ross is.”

Such internet phenomena are not simply fun and hot air, Newcombe warns: the boom in such services has a carbon cost.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Doctor_K

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2009, 02:34:35 PM »
On a kind-of related note, there's the alternative search engine to Google, called Blackle.  Blackle does not deal with the search engines and data centers, but rather the power to your desktop/laptop screen, and consumer-level power usage rather than corporate-level power usage.

http://www.blackle.com/about/
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."  -- Albert Einstein

BridgeTroll

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2009, 03:01:43 PM »
Thanks for the link Doc... It would be interesting to find out the increase in power usage directly attributed to home computing since the dawn of the internet.  The power used to construct the machines and monitors, the resources devoured to manufacture and use them.  The pollution generated by creation and use these machines is staggering especially considering most are improperly disposed of at end of life.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Lunican

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2009, 03:06:46 PM »
Big screen plasma and LCD tv's use even more power. Sometimes even when they are off.

BridgeTroll

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 03:11:44 PM »
No doubt... the UK and California are getting ready to tax them based on their power consumption.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Doctor_K

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 03:13:22 PM »
Which is kind of crummy, since CRT TVs will become increasingly difficult to find.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."  -- Albert Einstein

BridgeTroll

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 03:46:34 PM »
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

kellypope

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2009, 12:00:25 AM »
I'm hoping my internet/otherwise computer usage is balanced by the fact that I don't drive a car most of the year, am a vegetarian, don't watch television, and don't use any other really big electronics. That and I sowed like crazy over my winter break--hopefully I'll come home to lots of little seedlings.
Have you called Councilman Warren Jones to thank him for sponsoring the human rights bill? Do it now! Super quick and easy--plus, it feels better than leaving angry messages with bad guys. Call his office at (904) 630-1395

BridgeTroll

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2009, 06:56:31 AM »
Good job Kelly... :) But you are the exception, not the rule. :)
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Jason

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2009, 11:10:21 AM »
Kelly, how did you watch the Super Bowl without a big screen or hamburgers and brats?  :)

kellypope

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2009, 11:19:27 AM »
It was hard, man. I almost went batty! ;)
Have you called Councilman Warren Jones to thank him for sponsoring the human rights bill? Do it now! Super quick and easy--plus, it feels better than leaving angry messages with bad guys. Call his office at (904) 630-1395

samiam

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2009, 11:51:29 AM »
I have never understood the logic behind being a vegetarian is good for the environment. During the 19Th century there was approx 60 to 100 million American bison roaming the great plains and the lived about 15 years in the wild. there is currently approx 100 million cattle in the U.S and live 2 to 4 years. Are cattle Gasser than bison and do vegetarian look at Buffalo bill as a great American hero

kellypope

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2009, 11:57:56 AM »
The misdeeds of cattle farming is more than methane gas production. Think of how much land is cleared and then used to grow grains not suitable for human consumption but which are cheap enough to fatten a cow. And think of how much a cow has to eat every day. And check this out: http://planetsave.com/blog/2009/01/29/80-percent-of-amazon-deforestation-stems-from-cattle-ranching-2/
You can read in the url what the title of the article is, so I'm not going to reiterate it. And that's just cattle. By cutting out pork, chicken, sheep, or any other animal, I've been eating what grows in a season, not over years of feeding. How much grain will I consume versus how much grain a cow consumes? Meanwhile, my food lives on carbon dioxide, water, and dirt (trace elements and all), and in return feeds me, hydrates me, gives me vitamins and gives me oxygen.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 11:59:52 AM by kellypope »
Have you called Councilman Warren Jones to thank him for sponsoring the human rights bill? Do it now! Super quick and easy--plus, it feels better than leaving angry messages with bad guys. Call his office at (904) 630-1395

samiam

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Re: Computing and your carbon footprint.
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2009, 12:25:28 PM »
The info came from the history of the American bison. the number slowly declined from 1800 to1860 In 1800 it would take a full day for a herd to pass. After the Slater was well underway in the 1880's it was estimated there was 30 to 80 million.