Published on August 25th, 2009 | by Guest Contributor


Does Blogging Cause Global Warming?

Before you start reading: Write down the exact time (00:00:00) you start reading this post for reference later.

Now, Do you know what your carbon footprint will be for reading this blog post? How about mine from writing it? What exactly is the impact of using a computer on the environment? Does it actually contribute to climate change?

Photo Creidt: adria.richardcomputer_earth

What effect does computer use have on the Earth?

Dr. Alexander Wissner-Gross, Environmental Fellow at Harvard University studying the environmental impact of computing, says that each second of web browsing generates around 20 milligrams of CO2. So, you’re probably pushing 100 mg of CO2 already. And if you used Google to find me, that’s 0.2 grams per search.
If you think the Internet as it is now is the green solution, think again. Some recent studies are highlighting the increasing energy needs of computers and the entire IT industry.
Shocker Statistic:
% of world’s greenhouse gases created by the manufacturing, use and disposal of information and communication technology: 2%
% of world’s greenhouse gases created by the entire aviation industry: 2%
Source: Gartner Report, 2007

What about this:
Annual electricity to transmit annual spam email = Power for 2 million U.S. homes
Source: Anti-virus software firm McAfee

“Most people don’t appreciate that the computer on your desk is contributing to global warming and that if its electricity comes from a coal power plant it produces as much C02 as a sports utility vehicle,” said Bill St. Arnaud of Canarie.

How do you calculate an IT carbon footprint?
Factors include data centers (where the information is stored), network infrastructure (all the stuff that the information travels on), and manufacture and transport (making all that stuff).
2002 global data center emissions: 76 million tons of CO2
2002 Fixed broadband accounts emissions: 4 million tons of CO2
2002: Manufacture & transport of PC’s and laptops: 200 million tons of CO2
Source: Climate Group and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) Report.

So, does blogging create climate change? Not nearly as much as driving to the store to buy paper to print out a 40 page color PDF brochure to read during your next flight to Cancun- but, there is a footprint.

Who is doing something about this? What are the Green Internet Ideas?

Here are a few:

  • Wissner-Gross runs C02Stats, a web hosting company that helps businesses monitor and manage their environmental impact and purchase renewable energy certificates to offset their monthly CO2 emissions.
  • Cleanbits lobbies web sites to go green by either by purchasing carbon offsets or switching to green hosting providers.
  • is a solar-powered data center based in California.
  • I love EcoFont, a free font that uses tiny holes in letters to reduce ink use by 20% when you print.

Please include links and descriptions in the comments to companies you would recommend.

Stop your timer and use this as a rough estimate: 1 second of browsing= 20mg CO2

Your footprint after reading this blog post for 5 minutes? 0.6 grams of CO2.
Mine from writing it? 1.8 grams.

All statistics taken from “Greening the Internet” unless otherwise noted.

Get the Green Living Ideas book in softcover or PDF for as low as $2.99!

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