Harvard physicist says “never mind” on Google energy use

Apparently the media got the story wrong [what a shock!].

I had noted that the story clearly was wrong in my post “Ignore the media hype and keep Googling — The energy impact of web searches is very LOW.” Now TechNewsWorld reports:

A Harvard researcher spent much of Monday setting the record straight about his research and how it relates to Google’s energy consumption….

One problem: the study’s author, Harvard University physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, says he never mentions Google in the study. “For some reason, in their story on the study, the Times had an ax to grind with Google,” Wissner-Gross told TechNewsWorld. “Our work has nothing to do with Google. Our focus was exclusively on the Web overall, and we found that it takes on average about 20 milligrams of CO2 per second to visit a Web site.”

And that tiny amount of CO2 is, as they say, nothing to blog home about. Dog bites man.

Wissner-Gross deserves some of the blame for this media miscoverage since he still hasn’t published his study on-line as far as I can tell, which is odd for a study on online energy use. People I know who are familiar with his methodology do question it.

5 Responses to Harvard physicist says “never mind” on Google energy use

  1. paulm says:

    Airport protests are starting to takeoff!
    When will the arrive in North America?

    This has got to be one of the most effective ways to protest for climate!

    The most British of protests
    It’s cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off as flash mob protesters stage Heathrow third runway demonstration


  2. paulm says:

    We dont hear much on train solutions here joe????

    Spain’s high-speed trains win over fed-up flyers

    sleek new high-speed trains have stolen hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines over the last year, slashing carbon emissions and marking a radical change in the way Spaniards travel.

    Passenger numbers on fuel-guzzling domestic flights fell 20% in the year to November as commuters and tourists swapped cramped airline seats for the space and convenience of the train, according to figures released yesterday.

    High-speed rail travel – boosted by the opening of a line that slashed the journey time from Madrid to Barcelona to 2 hours 35 minutes in February – grew 28% over the same period. About 400,000 travellers shunned airports and opted for the 220mph AVE trains.

  3. hernadi-key says:

    come on join with me to fight GLOBAL WARMING..

  4. Lamont says:

    I ran the numbers based on my experience at Amazon and how many servers they run, took Alexa’s numbers on Amazon % page rank (0.2% of page views) and some other global internet stats and found:

    total worldwide internet energy consumption = 0.1% of total US energy consumption
    average internet user power consumption/yr = 22.5 kWh
    average CO2 emissions per internet user/yr = 30 lbs / 13 kg
    CO2 emissions per second = 158 mg/second
    percent of average american CO2 emissions/yr = 0.07%

    so, off by a factor of 8, but i spent about 15 minutes on it and made some fairly broad assumptions…. still insignificant….

  5. jgogek says:

    But there is a big problem with IT’s carbon footprint, which is as big as the airline industry and getting bigger. Consider:

    Each network router produces 20 tons of CO2 per year, each printer 10 tons and each PC or laptop 4 tons.

    As computer equipment becomes more sophisticated, energy usage per computer server rack is growing. It is climbing from 2 kilowatts in 2000 to 30 kilowatts in 2010.

    Every dollar spent on power for IT equipment requires another dollar on cooling, roughly the equivalent to double the cost of the hardware itself over three years.

    Cyberinfrastructure accounts for more than half of the typical 200,000 to 500,000 metric tons of emitted CO2 at U.S. universities.

    UC San Diego is holding a symbosium on cleaning up IT’s dirty footprint.
    Check it out at

    UC San Diego greenest university blog: