Is Google the next big climate crisis?

August 12th, 2019

Of all the tech giants, Google and Apple have the fuzziest (and I mean ‘nice guys’) images and hence reputations. People love them because they are not like Facebook, who plays fast and loose with your data, or Intel – remember ‘Satan Inside’. Google are the good guys: ‘don’t do evil’. 

Apple have been in the wars about the practices of their suppliers in China but have come through it. To date, Google has remained virtually untouched. 

But that could all change in a looming crisis, which is, for the most part of its own making – a classic shot to the foot. 

Last month, 300 the great and good of Hollywood royalty came together with British royalty and loads of others in Sicily to discuss the ‘environment’ at a climate camp in Sicily.  

To get these luvvies and their hangers-on to Sicily, 114 private jets were used as well as ocean-going yachts. Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Pery, among others rubbed shoulders with a barefoot Price Harry on the beach as they solved the world’s problems.  

For some reason, Google does not publicise this jamboree and everyone (like taxi drivers, helicopter pilots, etc) who is involved is made to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. For journalists, this is a red rag to a bull and, of course, the details slowly leaked out.  

So what? That’s life. That’s all yesterday’s news and who cares? 

But then the other questions began to surface about Google’s own energy consumption from data centres. This huge computer farms are energy hungry monsters, much of it used to keep the beasts cool.  

Google offsets its energy consumption with renewables, although they are always near the lair of the monster. But it’s still a lot of energy. Every single search is the equivalent to a 60W light bulb running for 17 minutes. I just looked this up. And, in another 17 second’s worth, I found out that Google has 40,000 searches a second. 

Now that’s a lot of energy and, offset or not, it has to be found somewhere. And maybe you don’t want to be bragging too loud about the environment when you’re such a big consumer. 

If anyone at Google has any sense, they will cancel next year’s shenanigans.  We’ll see.

Tom

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