The Power of Search

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, reported the Sunday Times. There’s no need to tell you which Times, since the quantification is so very English.

Many kettles could have been boiled with the heat and other energy used in the reaction to the article. Om asked: Why Pick On Google? How Green Are We The People? and provides evidence that Google strives harder for efficiency than do most of us. From Google itself comes further context.

a Google search uses just about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds… the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those of in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

So the “cup of tea” quantification is as misleading as it is English. I was going to close with the environmental impact of the pot of coffee I’ve just made, but that would probably have involved Google searches…

Greenest Way to Drink Coffee?

What’s the greenest way to drink coffee? Jacob Leibenluft at Slate leads in as follows:

how to balance a caffeine addiction with a concern about responsible consumption [?]… You’ll have a hard time finding a more eco-unfriendly product than the material most of us call Styrofoam… Still, it may not always be the right move to switch over to ceramic or stainless-steel mugs. It all comes down to which aspects of the environment you care about most.

January MugsI was discussing this issue with a friend recently. I am fond of my reusable coffee mugs. I joined The Mug Project, which advocates the use of mugs to reduce waste caused by single serve beverage containers.

But is the per-use waste of paper and styrofoam cups really worse than the energy used to produce reusable mugs from plastic or other durable material? That’s the question raised in the Slate article. I’d like to see that question analyzed as well as raised (and sort of addressed), but I consider the article a good enough start to upmod it at Reddit, where I found it.

There are other ways of answering the question in the title. For example, how much greener is it to get coffee from Costa Rica (fairly near, and certainly good) than from Sumatra (much further away from Boston, and my favorite coffee)? And what about buying one’s coffee in the form of unroasted green beans, a la Sweet Maria’s?