Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Google and energy

"The energy it takes to conduct ten 
searches on Google could power a 60-Watt light bulb for nearly three minutes. At any one time the energy used by the search engine could power 200,000 homes. Think of that the next time you go searching for sneezing pandas and performing hamsters." (NY Times, 2011)

I haven't actually searched for sneezing hamsters, but I do watch some of these animal videos and I have wondered about the energy used for all these electronic gadgets in use today. I pass people with a phone glued to their ear or busily fingering away on it while walking their dog. The dog does mainly what it likes as the owner's attention is certainly elsewhere. People walk around supermarket shelves talking to someone on the phone, and it's not always a conversation about which brand of cornflakes to buy. It's embarrassing. You try not to listen but the conversation can be heard two aisles away. Who is actually invading whose privacy?

Every home is in the western world has at least one computer, perhaps two or three or seven given the proliferation of laptops and ipads. What happens when the population that currently doesn't own one finally does? How many more millions will search on Google for those elusive sneezing hamsters? Will it mean electronic collapse? All that electricity has to come from somewhere, and at the moment it comes from power stations, themselves powered by fossil fuels which as we all recognise, are finite and dwindling.

Perhaps I won't watch those animal videos any more. They usually make me cry anyway. 

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