Skip to content
  • How much better is Canada?

    Site ifitweremyhome.com fuels the which-country-is-better debate by comparing stats like electricity use and oil consumption. Warning: It's addictive.

  • Meet your eco-mate with Planet Earth Singles

    Three weeks, max.planetearthsingles.comAt last, there is a green-friendly dating site for environmentally, socially and spiritually conscious singles! Not making this up: Types of Dating: • Earth Dating• Eco-Friendly Dating• Conscious Dating• Vegetarian Dating• Vegan Dating• Raw Foods Dating• Environmentally Conscious Dating• Eco Conscious Dating• Yoga Dating• Animal Rights Dating• Conscious Single Dating• Planet Earth Dating […]

  • Umbra advises on web hosting

    Q. Greetings Umbra, To save energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions, I’ve so far resisted establishing my own website. However, because I’m an author and these days almost all authors use websites to further their careers, I’m now thinking of setting one up. How much energy do websites actually consume? Are there ways to make […]

  • Not all environmental websites are created equal

    I’ve been visiting a wide variety of environmental blogs lately to get my daily dose of information and commentary. I have settled on eighteen feeds that I visit most days, opening tabs to articles of interest from each to be read right away or later in the day. This has given me the opportunity to […]

  • Gore backs idea for a new .eco domain name

    Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection are partnering with the group Dot Eco LLC to pursue a new top-level domain for environmental groups and initiatives, “.eco.” Rather than a “.com” or a “.org,” groups could choose to use this new domain to show their eco-tasticness. According to the press release, “.eco will be […]

  • Grist seeks volunteers for top-secret Facebook project

    Do you waste untold hours spend time on Facebook? And enjoy a casual obsession with the latest environmental news? Do you like top-secret projects?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, consider volunteering for one of the highly coveted beta tester spots for Grist's top-secret Facebook project. We'll need virtual volunteers during the first two weeks of February. If you want in, shoot an email with your full name and age to abraun@grist.org.

    To the curious, non-Facebook folk out there, sorry to leave you hanging for now, but all will be revealed later in February.

    And in case you didn't realize how much fun Grist is already having on social networks, fan/friend/follow/Digg us on these sites!

  • Media Matters commenter provides one of the greatest snarks at the denier wingnut mentality

    Craig C. Clarke made one of the all-time great comments about delayers and deniers over at Media Matters:

  • The energy impact of web searches is very low

    Some myths are hard to kill. The Times Online "reports":

    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.

    The overhyping of the internet's energy use goes back a decade, pushed by two right-wing deniers, Mark Mills and Peter Huber. They were actually using their easily-refuted analysis to argue against climate restrictions -- I kid you not. In this 1999 press release [PDF] from the laughably-named denier group, the "Greening Earth Society," Mills says:

    While many environmentalists want to substantially reduce coal use in making electricity, there is no chance of meeting future economically-driven and Internet-accelerated electric demand without retaining and expanding the coal component.

    I ended up writing a major report debunking this myth and then testifying in front of the Senate Commerce committee [PDF] (i.e. John McCain) and the House [PDF] on the subject. Jon Koomey and others at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) did even more work debunking this nonsense (click here for everything you could possibly want to know on the subject).

    There are actually two mistakes in the Harvard calculation. The first, which was the focus of my research, is the big picture issue. What is the net energy consumed by the internet? I argue the internet is a net energy saver -- and a big one -- since it increases efficiency (especially in things like the supply chain) and dematerialization (it uses less energy to research online than in person). The fact that U.S. energy intensity (energy consumed per dollar of GDP) began dropping sharply in the mid-1990s is but one piece of evidence that internet- and IT-driven growth is less energy intensive.

    I, for instance, am able to work at home and telecommute thanks to the Internet and a broadband connection. That saves the energy consumed in commuting and a considerable amount of net building energy: Most people's homes are an underutilized asset, which consume a great deal of energy whether or not they are there.

    The other mistake just involves the more narrow question of how much energy is consumed by Googling. Wissner-Gross says it is 7g of CO2 per search. My LBNL colleagues say that is way too high, and Google itself has rebutted that analysis with their own, which I reprint here: