The Conflict of Interest of CO2
Quite a hoo ha over one of those weekend type stories whose headline in the Times of London says it all:
Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches
Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea
The article liberally quotes Wissner-Gross “a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon.” Lower down the storiy It also says “Wissner-Gross has submitted his research for publication by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and has also set up a website www.CO2stats.com.”
True. Though what it doesn’t say is that the website—and Wissner-Gross–directly benefits from this kind of research. C02Stats offers clients plans, ranging from $5 a month to $100, to calculate their websites total energy consumption, make it more energy efficient, and then neutralizes their carbon footprint by buying renewable energy from wind and solar farms.
Now, the research may well be right. (Some doubt it.) And the idea of certifying websites is not a bad idea. But I guess what troubles me is that an academic is able to publish research which tries to prove a point which would benefit the same academic’s business which offers green certification which depends upon a service which the business sells.
I’m sure it’s not the only example, but it strikes me as quite a compromise going on there.