Facebook released a report about its carbon footprint on Wednesday, estimating that each user's annual impact while using the site is about the same as a medium latte or three large bananas, which, as The Guardian points out, is significantly lower than Google's estimated carbon footprint per user. Google users generate about 5.4 times as much carbon as Facebook's, it turns out, making their individual carbon footprints the equivalent of "filling a deep bath or buying an imported bottle of wine," The Guardian's Duncan Clark reported in September 2011. That's because users do a lot more on Google than they do on Facebook.
Strictly by the numbers, Facebook said its annual carbon emissions came to 285,000 metric tons for 2011, compared with Google's 1,457,982 metric tons in 2010 (the last year the information is available). Per user, that works out to 269 grams for Facebook, and a total of 1.46 kilograms for Google. Of course, the Google figure includes YouTube, Gmail, and other Google services such as maps. Facebook's just covers Facebook. Data centers produced the majority of the emissions for both companies, and Google has many, many more of them. It also has a fleet of cars for Street View (which produced "about 11,126 tons of direct emissions," according to Forbes), and more offices, the power consumption of which were included in its report. Facebook has said it's planning a green data center for Sweden, while Google claims its data centers use 50 percent less energy than the industry standard. Regardless of the size of their carbon footprints, it's at least good the companies are being transparent about their energy use.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.