Green Google Whiplash

Posted by: Heather Green on September 14, 2007

Yesterday, Google announced that it was backing a $30 million prize to land a rover on the Moon, “to revive the interest for exploring the Moon.”

Geeks cheered.

A few days earlier, Google announced that it was launching an $10 million RFP as part of its initiative to “accelerate the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology.” Google says its committed to “finding innovative transportation solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.”

Enviros cheered.

Forgive me for being simplistic, but I’ve always worried about the let’s go to the Moon and let’s go to Mars fan clubs. It’s all too often accompanied by the next thought which is, we screwed up this planet. We need to find somewhere else to live. Not to mention all the energy these kinds of exploits use up.

Like it or not, there’s a little bit of inconsistency in everything green that Google does. A jumbo jet v. critizing carbon offsets.
Solar energy on the company’s headquarters v. no insight into how much energy their massive datacenters suck up.

Reader Comments

Prakash

September 17, 2007 12:16 AM

Google does not seem to have any strong value system.All it wants is to be in news and its founders want constant fame.Just because being green is the latest fashion among the celebrities Google also wants to climb on the bandwagon. Caring for our environment should not be tokenism. It should be reflected in the way we live our life both personally and in business. As rightly said how much energy is wasted in mantaining its server farm. If 80:20 rule is applied most of the information stored would be useless.Why google is wasting so much power on information hoarding? Google founders would have set fine examples if they themselves lived a simple, energy efficient life. The super rich have already created an exclusive world for themselves in the form of privae islands, private jets, yatches etc. Now they want to colonize the outer space too.

lele MBA

September 17, 2007 4:41 AM

Well, at least they (google) are trying to go green. Now answer this: "Can you imagine a life without Google?"

Greg

September 17, 2007 8:40 AM

There is not a little bit of inconsistency in everything green that Google does. There is rampant hypocrisy, and since Google is not reported on, investigated, or chastised by the pliable press, then they will continue to get good press, without answering questions.

Rob

September 17, 2007 9:23 AM

You seem to be making your conclusion up. Of course Google is interested in how much energy their servers use, seeing as they pay the power bills every month.

They've also published research papers about how to optimize data warehouses. See http://www.google.com/custom?cx=009426920518858049978:opqofkf7ar0&cof=AH%3Aleft%3BCX%3AGoogle%2520Research%3BDIV%3A%23cccccc%3BFORID%3A0%3BGFNT%3A%23666666%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fresearch%2Egoogle%2Ecom%2Fimages%2Fresearch_150x55%2Egif%3BLH%3A0%3BLP%3A1%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fresearch%2Egoogle%2Ecom%2F%3B&q=energy&sa=Search&adkw=AELymgWvk4J-bZ4ZVKhVVEW9qOP88rZu_3DboByEOrQZVnpcImj3_BGmZUbzXgug5J1OaATMTTktRl9WKZ82uG7e6XsCqaO2TjR1VMybZsgOdhLQhD3vEcqNANwuRiO65KG9L7XL1rdn&hl=en&client=google-coop-np

I also question the effectiveness of carbon offsets and whether or not they actually help the environment, as proponents claim.

Heather Green

September 17, 2007 10:04 AM

Hi Lele MBA,

You're absolutely right, I couldn't imagine a world without Google. And I am not criticizing their business. They are incredible. But what I am just talking about how they seem to be inconsistent when they discuss energy use.

Hi Rob,

I am all in favor of understanding the value of carbon offsets and not using them as dispensation from other action. But let's assume we can get a system in place that does accurately track their impact, then we will need them, much as we use trading markets for SOX and NOX. Even envirogurus such as Alex Steffen from Worldchanging argues that we will need to use carbon offsets and carbon trading.

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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