Hölzle offered this handy chart for those eager to judge Google's place on the continuum of environmental sin:
|CO2 emissions of an average daily newspaper (PDF) (100% recycled paper)||850|
|A glass of orange juice||1,050|
|One load of dishes in an EnergyStar dishwasher (PDF)||5,100|
|A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile||10,000|
|Electricity consumed by the average U.S. household in one month||3,100,000|
There's a bit of irony in Hölzle's decision to highlight the fact that producing a newspaper requires as much energy as 850 Google searches. Google has been fairly vocal about its desire to save the newspaper industry, but figures like that suggest the planet would be better off without news printed on paper.
But never mind that. The point is that Google does a pretty good job trying to operate efficiently. And why not? Efficiency and profit go hand-in-hand when operating at Google's scale.
The point is also that information and communication technology, or ICT, pay for themselves by eliminating more carbon-intensive activities.
"'Virtual' tools like email, video-conferencing, and search engines replace more carbon-intensive activities like snail mail, business travel, and driving," says Hölzle.
If only Google searches were as satisfying as cheeseburgers.