Tempest in a Tea Kettle: CO2Stats Founder Caught in Frenzy Around Environmental Costs of a Google Search

1/12/09Follow @bbuderi

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is all about the methodology that we’re using,” Wissner-Gross told me. He says that no companies are mentioned in the paper.

What CO2Stats does have, he says, are statistics on the environmental costs of operating websites in general. The sites he studied, Wissner-Gross says, typically operate with only a few servers, “certainly nothing [on] the scale of Google.” In such cases, the majority of the energy “is consumed on the client side, not on the server side,” which makes it relatively easy to calculate total energy consumed. Wissner-Gross says that 20 mg of CO2 is emitted per second of normal website usage. “This is you just reading a content article on a basic website,” he says.

Wissner-Gross says he has already been in touch with Google about the controversy. “We’ve spoken to them today. We’ve told them what’s going on,” he says, adding, “It seems like they have the PR situation under control.”

The silver lining in all this, he says, is that “we’ve been seeing a lot of people signing up for our service” since the Times article appeared. Wissner-Gross says CO2Stats currently has about 5,000 websites worldwide signed up for this service, and had been growing at a rate of about 30 percent per month. He declined to say how many new customers have signed up in the past couple of days.

He seemed even more pleased about the increased awareness of the environmental costs of website usage the controversy has brought. When he first started talking about such matters, it sounded “a little bit silly,” Wissner-Gross admits. “Now for the first time it’s caught the attention and the imagination of the world…The market has woken up and discovered that IT has an environmental footprint.”

He hopes the day will come soon when people take environmental certification for websites “as seriously as they take having a privacy policy.”

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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