A friendlier way to internet search
Monday, July 27, 2009 - 11:14
Estimates vary, but the size of the internet was approximated at 168 million websites, and studies claim that 161 extabytes of information are produced worldwide. Google has claimed to have indexed over a trillion individual web pages. The point being there is a TON of information out there, and how we access this information is by using search engines. The choices available to us in the form of search engines comes down to a serious few, with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! accounting for four out of five internet searches. The cost of running all this computational infrastructure is enormous. For example, Google has over 450,000 servers, resulting in millions of dollars of electricity. A recent report said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world's airlines -- about two percent of global CO2 emissions. According to a recent London Times article, various experts put forward carbon emission estimates for such a search of 1g-10g depending on the time involved and the equipment used. This is pretty scary stuff!
There are many things we can do to cut back on our emissions when it comes to computer use. Turning the computer off instead of leaving it on, having the computer switch to a hiberate/standby mode when we are away from it, not keeping it plugged in when we are not using it -- these are all great places to start. After learning about all the emissions that come from internet searches, I decided to try to find a search engine that did not do so much polluting. I came across http://forestle.org, a "green internet search engine." You can find out how it works here and here. The short and sweet of it is that forestle earns advertising revenue from sponsored links and donates its revenues to The Nature Conservancy. It offsets its CO2 emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits. Glad to say I made this my default search engine!
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