The Environmental Cost Of Your Internet Searches, Visualize…
CO2GLE makes its calculations using public data from 2015: First, there’s the fact that the transmission of 1 GB of information takes an estimated 13kWh, which is equal to 7,07 kilograms of CO2. Moll says that since Google.com weighs 2 MB and it processes about 47,000 requests every second, the page emits 500 kilograms of CO2 emissions per second. That’s 300 tons of CO2 every minute. That’s more weight than two adult blue whales. Google reported in 2009 that it emits 0.2 grams of CO2 per search, while environmental consultants Carbonfootprint says that figure may be between 1 kg and 10 kg of CO2 per query.
In a statement to Co.Design, a Google spokesperson called Moll’s numbers incorrect: The company commends Moll “for raising awareness to the carbon footprint of the Internet. That said, the calculations she is basing her art project on are inaccurate.” The spokesperson says that “a full month of all Google services creates about the same amount of GHG emissions as driving a car one mile” per user.
Measuring CO2 in grams and tons gets abstract fast. A better way to look at this is to ask a different question: How many trees does it take to offset one second of Google searches? Moll’s second visualization project does just that: Deforest is a web page that shows the CO2 impact in a line of trees that keeps growing and growing to infinity. Sadly, trees are not infinite.
Tech giants like Google and Apple have programs to lower their carbon emissions, but it’s a difficult and complex task. Apple announced that it has moved 100% of its offices, retail stores, and data centers all over the world to 100% renewable power. It hasn’t erased its carbon footprint yet, however, as the manufacturing, distribution, and customer usage of electronics produce plenty of carbon dioxide. Google recently announced that it’s now using 100% renewable power, but, like Apple, it’s far from eliminating carbon emissions completely.