The New (Green?) Economy

A very good friend of mine once worked as a Transport Economist. He tells a story about explaining to his boss’s boss about projections on Australia’s fuel consumption going into the next two decades. The results were pretty shocking and the response was, “what about the impact of the new economy” (meaning the eCommerce etc.). The response was “this is the effect of the new economy”. Or to put it another way — delivering large piles of goods to stores is a lot more energy efficient than delivering lots of small parcels to individual households, even if a lot of the stuff delivered to stores is wasted.

Ars Technica brought this blog post (from Google) to my attention. The thrust of it is that a typical query on Google … wait for this … only uses 1kJ of energy and generates about 0.2g of CO2.


1kJ is 1000W for 1s, or 1W for 1000s. It’s as much power as one of the new LED flashlights consumes in a quarter of an hour. Or as much power as a really fast PC or Mac would use in several seconds (ignoring graphics card and monitor, since servers don’t have either).

Or, to put it another way, it’s more energy than you get from eating a Krispy Kreme regular donut. (1 kJ is roughly 240 calories, a regular glazed Krispy Kreme donut is 200 calories.)