On Wednesday 6th October 2021 Google made changes to some of its core products such as Maps, Travel, Shopping etc to provide the user with energy efficiency and carbon usage information.
These changes will allow the user to select which route to take to minimise fuel usage or allow the user to select which flight to take that has the lower carbon emissions.
I can see the value to this as it allows users to make conscious decisions that impact the environment based on their travel patterns or spending habits etc. But realistically is there a fundamental flaw with this strategy?
How much extra processing power does it take for Google to work out these carbon emission savings and how much extra storage does it require to save the results for future use. How much extra processing will be used up by Google processing and mining this extra data and the decisions that their billions of users make?
The reality is that all this extra processing and storage creates carbon emissions. There is no way around that. Except Google gets around this by stating since 2007 that it is Carbon Neutral. They buy all their energy from renewable sources which is very admirable and there should be more companies that do this but Carbon Neutrality still means that you emit carbon into the atmosphere it is just you are allowed to offset it against what you buy that was renewable.
The more processing and storage that Google does the more renewable energy they buy means the more carbon is released into the atmosphere yet Google can still say there are an environmentally sound carbon neutral company.
I applaud Google for providing a suit of products that are unparalleled in the world (probably except for some in China) and most of these products people use for free. Our world would be very different if Google did not exist, certainly I would get lost walking around London, but at what cost? This convenience and endless enhancement is simply making the environmental issue worse.
I would ask the big Tech Companies to stop looking at being Carbon Neutral as is it a fallacy and move towards Net Zero which is the only way to reduce the emissions being made into our environment.
If you are reading this in Hong Kong then these enhancements have not reached us yet. Part of me is glad because the longer they take to roll them out in Hong Kong the less Carbon Emissions Google will make.