Patterico's Pontifications

1/10/2009

Worried About the Environment? Log Off.

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 5:18 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

A Harvard University physicist claims internet use, including something as simple as a Google search, has a “definite environmental impact:”

“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.”

Google searches go to competing servers to maximize a fast response, leaving Google with excess capacity that burns energy. And it’s not just Google searches that have carbon costs. The researcher claims all internet use has an adverse impact:

“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.”

The link sets forth similar concerns by other researchers.

I think we have the ability to find and use abundant energy while we also protect the environment through technology and conservation. So which will it be, my internet friends? If you’re still worried about the environment, maybe it’s time for you to log off.

— DRJ

62 Responses to “Worried About the Environment? Log Off.”

  1. The upright yews I planted in my yard, with a stated 6-foot height max, have been doing masterfully in offsetting my internet carbon footprint. They have reached 9 feet in height. I’ll sell someone my excess carbon offset cheap.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  2. When the totalitarians finally take over, I will board my sailboat with six months’ supply of canned goods and set sail.

    I was driving home tonight behind a car that had Obama stickers, “Make Love Not War” stickers and “Peace” stickers. I really wanted to ask her about her convictions. If she was about to be raped, would she fight back? That sort of speaks to one of her stickers pretty forcefully.

    I don’t understand these people. David Pryce-Jones has a point.

    European politicians appear to be running around in search of someone, Arab, Iranian, Russian, Chinese, anyone, even each other, to whom they can consign their independence. When the Russians cut off the gas, the Europeans said that they insisted forthwith on sending monitors to talks between Russia and Ukraine. Now that’s an ultimatum! We may shiver from cold, they’ll shiver from fear. Quite as effective as ferrying teams of politicians round the Middle East to make sure that Hamas remains strong enough to work whatever mischief it can. Totalitarians of the world unite; you cannot lose to headless chickens.

    I think Obama supporters are from the same gene pool.

    Mike K (ee3203)

  3. I’ll bet my tax dollars paid for this ‘study.’ I’ll also bet that physicist Wissner-Gross used the Internet to conduct his research. I’d like someone to conduct a study as to how much carbon pollution is produced by stupid studies.

    Meanwhile, I’ve offset my entire carbon footprint for the year by not flying on a 747 to China for my vacation. If I come up short at year’s end, I’ll also not buy an SUV.

    ManlyDad (75cbfe)

  4. By giving up flying, I’ve saved enough carbon credits to “pay” for all of the visits to the range, which I’m sure will come in handy when some Eco-AH comes by and tells me to turn down my thermostat.

    AD (4de33d)

  5. Hmmm…lemme see now…which is better for my house plants?

    A Google search, or driving down to the library?

    Whoops, see y’all later…got to catch the library before it closes!

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  6. 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.

    I shudder to think what my streaming porn sites cost our planet…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  7. That study is very probably nonsense. It certainly lacks context. For one thing, how much carbon dioxide has this particular researcher released yakking about this project? Or the physical paper printed of his work?

    But more to the point, how much carbon dioxide has been released by Congressional travel?

    Or a single volcanic eruption.

    Please. Any study containing the words “due to be released soon...” is advertising and PR, not science.

    This is more environmental politics. A quick Google search taught me a lot about this savvy wunderkind.

    I wonder how much carbon dioxide his consulting company generates, for example.

    Ah, but that is different!

    The smart people get to produce carbon. The lumpenproletariate? Not so much.

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  8. there’s no such thing as global warming, so who cares what he thinks?

    redc1c4 (27fd3e)

  9. I just farted.

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  10. I’ll contribute by forsaking troll-feeding for the rest of this month. Not much of a sacrifice I guess, feeding them is sort of like wrestling with pigs.

    Old Coot (f036b5)

  11. Isn’t Google buying green energy?

    Pablo (99243e)

  12. I think I am going to connect my butt to a boiler and a steam generator.

    I am going green …. err, brown.

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  13. Seven grams of CO2? And you call this a problem? You should be congratulating Google for keeping it that low. There are lots of things all of us do that generate at LOT more than just 7 grams of CO2.

    A few examples are running climate control in home, office or car. These use HUGE amounts of energy.

    Focus on these instead.

    MattJ (931243)

  14. MattJ,

    Would eating Taco Bell =?

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  15. Ah, Google should be carbon neutral already. And if that isn’t green enough for you, this should be. Google your butts off, people! Guilt free.

    Pablo (99243e)

  16. A local liberal church made an effort a while back to get people to turn off their power strips when they weren’t in use. It seems the little red LED on the switch was too wasteful for their conservation sub-committee. I pulled out a calculator and (giving them a generous (liberal, even) allowance for the power draw of a single LED) did a few quick calculations. I suggested that even if they got 100% compliance out of their congregation (and assuming 2 power strips per household) I could erase their entire carbon savings with a few minutes on my 5000w clothes dryer. Just to, you know, fluff up the bath towels a bit.

    I was met with the predictable silent blank stare.

    I don’t begrudge people their personal efforts in ‘making a difference’. But if they’re going to bray about it to the rest of us…I’m happy to cut ’em down if their efforts are so obviously pointless.

    HAL (12084d)

  17. But Pablo,

    Think of all the CO2 created just creating Google.

    All that CO2 just to create each and every input ever needed by Google to be Google?

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  18. Another idea: newspapers should either go out of business or online only. Think of all the wasted paper, and wasted words. I read that Al Martinez’ column again will exit the LAT. Good. Maybe it’s because I’m not from LA, but I never saw the appeal. Always whining about something.

    john (1f4d17)

  19. Hal,

    Seriously, does eating refried beans, and it obvious bad CO2 outcomes, constitute and environmentally irresponsible?

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  20. Chris Mathews is a CO2 monster!
    (** they actually use the term CO2 monster in some cartoons my child gets infected with daily on NOGGIN*)

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  21. If people really wanted to eliminate CO2 they shut down all Taco stands in Cali.

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)

  22. Professor/idiot Alex Wissner-Gross can provide enough carbon credits to offset years of internet use by the world. All he needs is a short rope and a tree. He will also provide fertilizer, real instead of his BS, for the earth.

    Scrapiron (623f5f)

  23. Comment by john — 1/10/2009 @ 6:22 pm

    Re Martinez…
    Is he gone, or are they just going to transfer him over to La Opinion?

    In either case, that’s a debit in the AA column:
    One less Hispanic at the LAT, and over at LO, he’s not a minority.

    If they send him over to LO, we’ll find out how popular his drivel is in the Hispanic community – I would hope that they would have more respect for themselves than to read his tripe.

    AD (4de33d)

  24. Comment by Scrapiron — 1/10/2009 @ 6:37 pm

    That is deserving of a denouncement;
    and an Attaboy!

    AD (4de33d)

  25. Another great excuse for censoring the Internet …

    Evil Pundit (843b74)

  26. Remember when Obama said “we can’t” keep our homes at 72 degrees or eat as much as we want? Did anyone ever ask him what temperature we can keep our homes at and how much we can eat? Now that I know what I can’t do, I’d like to know what he plans on allowing me to do.

    Diffus (7a52d1)

  27. You can forget about carbon emissions with geoengineering. It would not require burdensome economic restrictions and the cost would be relatively trifling –$1 billion a year.

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

  28. As J.P.Morgan allegedly said:
    If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

    AD (4de33d)

  29. But more to the point, how much carbon dioxide has been released by Congressional travel?

    I think we can safely assume that even more carbon dioxide has been released by Congress when they are in session blathering on rather than than when traveling.

    Dana (137151)

  30. Hi Ho Hi Ho,
    It’s off to level the Brazilian Rain forest I go.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  31. Bradley, turn your link on. It does not seem to be ‘on’. Go ahead and use the microwattage, it’s okay here. We’re all proud GW scofflaws.

    allan (52005b)

  32. #16 HAL:

    …I’m happy to cut ‘em down if their efforts are so obviously pointless.

    Awhile back my daughter heard the rumor that McDonalds gives money to charity for pull tabs (off aluminum cans), and was encouraged to collect them by a family member for the purpose.

    When I pointed out the McDonalds has never had such a program, and that the pull tab things were worth their weight in aluminum, the family member replied that it was still a good thing for my daughter to “get involved” and “give back to the community.”

    Which is bologna. Pointless, wasted effort benefits nobody, no matter how ‘pure’the sentiment.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  33. #31 allan:

    We’re all proud GW scofflaws.

    Oh, I’m not particularly a GW scofflaw.

    Obviously, there has been. (And a good thing, too!)

    However, some of the research I’ve seen suggests that we are entering a period of decreases solar luminosity…so I don’t spend too much time worrying about GW.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  34. We have a Ronald McDonald House in the vicinity and they do ask for the pull tabs but it’s because they recycle them for the money. McDonald’s the business does not redeem them for cash. They also ask for other small contributions such as the loose change at McDonald’s drive-throughs or volunteering to cook a meal at the House. It’s a good cause. It helps parents stay near their children who need long-term hospitalization.

    nk (2a3e35)

  35. #35 nk:

    but it’s because they recycle them for the money.

    In some areas, apparently there was such an influx of the things that it made it economically possible for franchisees to recycle all of their aluminum for cash.

    But we don’t live (nor does the helpful family member) in such an area.

    –EW1 (founding community member of the BRING recycling center in the 1970s…)

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  36. Comment by Bradley J. Fikes — 1/10/2009 @ 7:17 pm

    Oh yeh, that’s going to be great.
    Engineering a cooling trend by inserting sulpher into the upper atmosphere just as we’re going into a cooling period.
    All we would need now is for one massive volcanic eruption and we would end up with an 1816-like “Year Without Summer”.

    As “Silent Cal” was fond of saying:
    When you see ten problems rolling down the road at you, just stand back and do nothing. For, ultimately, nine of them will put themselves into the ditch, and you’ll only have to deal with one.

    AD (4de33d)

  37. I have a funny feeling the bacteria in my yard that is helping to decompose any vegetation releases a ton more CO2 then me using the computer or passing gas or watching football or drinking beer, no wait CO2 is a by-product of beer making.

    Souther California Edison was running a few commercials last summer that made some really outrageous claims. One of them was I can remove something like the pollution of a hundred thousand cars by using compact fluoresce light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs, so I alone removed some two and half million cars over 4 years ago, they also claimed certain appliances used more energy when they are off then when they are on.

    I laughed and told my wife you don’t have to be an electricity expert, almost any amount of common sense says those claims can not possibly be true, its just flounder for liberals to consume.

    ML (14488c)

  38. Two Google Searches,the flap of a butterflies wings, and the next thing you know the levees are breaking in New Orleans and polar bear cubs are drowning in the North Atlantic.

    Bob W (e9bf3b)

  39. Sulfates, dispersed into the atmosphere the article said…

    Wikid the Pedia says: “The sulfate ion is a polyatomic anion with the empirical formula SO42− and a molecular mass of 96.06 daltons; it consists of a central sulfur atom surrounded by four equivalent oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement. The sulfate ion carries a negative two charge and is the conjugate base of the bisulfate (or hydrogen sulfate) ion, HSO4−, which is the conjugate base of H2SO4, sulfuric acid. Organic sulfates, such as dimethyl sulfate, are covalent compounds and esters of sulfuric acid.

    Acid? You mean like in acid rain?

    Yes, but it’s a cooling sort of acid rain.

    allan (52005b)

  40. wow, that is such a great idea, why didnt I think of that. What better way than to get libs off the web,……somehow, i dont think they’ll care about this one since they tend to live on it to find people just as miserable as them. Stupid donkeys Asses

    slizzle (4c3b4d)

  41. The best way to curb global warming is for everyone along the lines of Al Gore (including all the dopes in his political party, of his ideology) to hold his or her breath—and therefore not exhale any harmful carbon dixoide—for at least 10 minutes, preferably longer.

    Mark (411533)

  42. And whatever became of that Collyfournia plan to regulate home thermostats by remote control of the state gummint? Maybe Obama’s new civilian goon squad could enforce home temps and energy use, charge a fee for driving so many miles, check tire air pressures and fine people for non-compliance.

    Meanwhile irritating twats like Arianna Huffington flit about the planet in private jets and ride around in stretch limos. Not to mention Lord algore’s and the Breck Girl’s energy scarfing mansions. Hypocritical, self-righteous, holier-than-thou libweenies rule.

    aoibhneas (0c6cfc)

  43. I read that Al Martinez’ column again will exit the LAT. Good. Maybe it’s because I’m not from LA, but I never saw the appeal.

    I generally have never read his stuff, but I still recall a blatantly political, overtly negative piece he did on George Bush last year. What stood out about it was that the column ran in the features (or arts) section of the paper, NOT on the op-ed page.

    From that point onward, I knew Martinez (his column prior to that often striking me as mainly apolitical or non-political fluff) was as liberal, if not leftwing, as they come.

    Things like that are a big reason that the demise of newspapers may deserve a loud cheer.

    Mark (411533)

  44. I started paying attention to politics in the mid 1970’s, about the sam time the enviro-whackos began to gather steam. In the time since they have proposed a vast number of ‘solutions’ that proved rather quickly to be worse than the ‘problems’ they originally addressed, and very few solutions that actually worked as advertised.

    Want to “Save the environment”? Shoot an environmentalist.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

  45. it’s the Ronald McDonald Houses that collect the pop tabs…… here in LA, it’s supported by the Telephone Pioneers group.

    sample web page: https://www.ronaldmcdonaldhousehouston.org/HowToHelp/PullTabProgram.htm

    redc1c4 (27fd3e)

  46. Aluminum is manufactured in an extremely energy intensive process from bauxite. You’re essentially performing the reverse of the thermite reaction – used as an example of an extreme exothermic reaction in high schools and colleges everywhere.

    Anywhere with a scrap metal yard will accept aluminum of any sort, regardless of whether your local area has a recycling program or a ‘deposit’ program or whatever. They generally will pay cash on a ‘by weight’ basis.

    Simply put, aluminum is an eminently recyclable material. Remelting, repurifying and recasting the aluminum is around 10% of the energy cost alone of making fresh aluminum from bauxite. There’s no shortages of bauxite, it’s just flat out cheaper to use recovered aluminum than to create ‘new’ aluminum.

    But if they were really concerned about the environment, they’d turn off the TV transmitters. Up to 100,000 W transmitters – one per station, per city. They’re even kept on at night on ‘off the air’ stations broadcasting the farging test pattern. Hello?

    Al (93703e)

  47. I worked on a state school project here in the greater LA area a few years ago.

    And being the mean neo-con that I am, the poor environmentalist soiled their pants when I showed up one morning and loudly proclaimed that “I loved the smell of freshly graded dirt in the morning”, it was an all time classic.

    ML (14488c)

  48. I think that passed gas is methane, not CO2.

    Hazy (dda662)

  49. The loons will try to outright ban incandescent bulbs here – it just happened in the UK. I’ve been buying/hoarding them for a couple of years. CFLs give off light that is ugly, they make some of us nauseous, and they are a holy nightmare to either dispose of properly or clean up if broken.

    As far as Google goes, I’m going to use it MORE now and I just cranked up the heat (it’s 20F here). And yes, the globe is cooling. Incidentally, 30 years ago when global cooling was the scare tactic, the wackos’ solutions were oddly the same as they are now for warming – cut down on energy usage and destroy Western economies. Because it’s not about the environment, it’s about destroying Western civilization.

    Rush: environmental extremism is the last refuge of old Marxists.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  50. Ach du lieber. What a dilemma for dem Greenshirts. Heil das Climatenschangenheit!

    A Gorey Truth: A Deduction from Certain Premises
    It is the case that the Internet is indisputably a major, if not the major cause of enormous amount of energy usage around the world. Furthermore, it is beyond dispute that former Senator Gore profoundly and publicly prides himself as a major player of promoting said Internet (if not its inventor.) It being the case that our global climate change is putting the fate of humanity, nay all living beings in peril (as averred and propounded most vociferously to widespread renown and accolades by the aforementioned Mr. Gore.) Furthermore, the headlong promotion of a perverse technology which so threatens us all being akin to a palpably criminal enterprise, it would seem that those purveyors of this poison, including DARPA (a.k.a. the military industrial complex) be summarily charged with crimes against humanity. This certainly may be brought up in a court of law commensurate under the provisions of hate crime. It is a crime which will destroy in its course perhaps everybody and every living thing. It is therefor beyond the promotion of simple genocide. In fact, it has been hypothesized by serious scientists that the very earth may be plunged off its orbit by climate change. Indeed there can be no greater degree of criminality ever contemplated. Q.E.D.

    (I say: to the Hague with Mr. Gore and his ilk!)

    Thingumbob Esq. (10023d)

  51. […] Liberal Values, Jules Crittenden, Fausta’s Blog, JammieWearingFool, Patterico’s Pontifications and TigerHawk Technorati Tags: stupidity ,Global Warming ,Al Gore ,news ,Liberals […]

    The Obligatory Google is ruining the Universe Posting | Political Byline (e78bc3)

  52. […] Patterico: So which will it be, my internet friends? If you’re still worried about the environment, maybe it’s time for you to log off. […]

    AGW Today: Believers Must Stop Using The Interwebz : Stop The ACLU (665541)

  53. Which is bologna. Pointless, . . . ~ EW1(SG)

    Hey, now. Bologna is never pointless; it was one of the foods on which I was raised as a kid. Baloney, on the other hand, is pointless.

    /poTAtoe, poTAHtoe (Props to the anonymous teacher who handed Dan Quayle the spelling bee card with ‘potato’ misspelled; gotta support those teachers’ unions!)

    RickZ (472435)

  54. How much production of greenhouse gasses does voting cause? Maybe we can tell dems that voting is a crime against nature a rape of the planet and being green means tuning out of politics?

    eaglewingz08 (c46606)

  55. Rush: environmental extremism is the last refuge of old Marxists.

    Watermellons…Green on the outside, Red to the core.

    AD (f2ee3d)

  56. And whatever became of that Collyfournia plan to regulate home thermostats by remote control of the state gummint?

    It was withdrawn after the torrent of bad publicity. However, a bill by then-State Sen. Tom McClintock to block it from being tried again, SB 1491, was vetoed by Ahnold.

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

  57. I wonder what the carbon footprint of breathing while doing a Google Search is?

    And while we are on the subject, shouldn’t hunters get carbon offset credits?

    I mean what is the carbon footprint of a deer over it’s lifetime if it’s not shot and the meat replaces commercialy raised animals so shouldn’t that extend the carbon offset credit even longer?

    How much does PETA contribute to global warming??

    Dan Kauffman (c260a1)

  58. And whatever became of that Collyfournia plan to regulate home thermostats by remote control of the state gummint?

    If the State decides to control my thermostat setting I can still control the temperature of the thermostat, a trick I learned in college, a bag of crused ice works really well on a locked thermostat and I figure a hand held hair dryer would do the same during the summer.

    Dan Kauffman (c260a1)

  59. Dan Kauffman,
    Unfortunately, your idea wouldn’t work under the proposed thermostat mandate, were it ever to be resurrected. Your control of the temperature would be at the sufferance of the state.

    In normal times, your thermostat would be allowed to regulate the temperature. But the utilities could override your thermostat whenever they decide there is an emergency. The override would be regulated by a radio-controlled device that would turn your air conditioning on or off. It would be non-removable by the homeowner, and tampering with it would be illegal.

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

  60. the utilities could override your thermostat whenever they decide there is an emergency

    Another reason why I am edging closer to the California border every month. The state blocked the utilities from generating their own power (They had to sell their generating plants) and then blocked them from buying long term contracts. That was the reason for the crisis that sank Gray Davis.

    Simply put, aluminum is an eminently recyclable material. Remelting, repurifying and recasting the aluminum is around 10% of the energy cost alone of making fresh aluminum from bauxite. There’s no shortages of bauxite, it’s just flat out cheaper to use recovered aluminum than to create ‘new’ aluminum.

    I wonder how much this has to do with the troubles of Alcoa. Two years ago it was above 35 and this is a historic low.

    Mike K (ee3203)

  61. Does eating re-fried beans constitute being environmentally irresponsible?

    I have yet to hear from the peanut gallery.

    Da'Shiznit (dc4a50)


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