Does the green movement’s use of the web cancel itself out?
Last year we wrote about how Ford was having a Fiesta, and that you weren’t invitado. Well, they’re finally going to market the car next year in the states, and they apparently picked 100 bloggers from over 4,000 applicants to pump their product through social networking. Which all got me wondering. What is the carbon footprint of our time spent on the web? Well, apparently two Google searches produce the same amount of CO2 as bringing water to a boil on your stovetop. Some other examples: the total of electricity consumed by major search engines in 2006 was nearly 5 gigawatts, which is enough to power Las Vegas on the hottest day of the year. What about the trillions of spam messages sent annually? They consume enough electricity to power 2.4 million homes, and release as much carbon dioxide as 3.1 million cars consuming 2 billion gallons of gasoline. Which begs the obvious question: if that’s the impact of spam, what about porn? Based on all of this, will the benefits of buying a Fiesta be undone by all the blogging and Facebooking about them? You decide. Current estimates would put Facebook’s overall carbon footprint at half of New York City’s (thanks mostly to all those photos you share!). That somehow doesn’t sound as bad as the fact that Avatars in Second Life consume as much electricity as actual Brazilians, but it’s still a hefty figure. Fortunately there are lots of Facebook apps to help you manage your carbon footprint. If you actually take this topic seriously and want to figure out your carbon footprint, there a plenty of resources like the LowImpactLiving.com Impact Calculator, and this WSJ article takes a good look at a few products and how their footprints are measured.