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Tech’s Environmental Footprint

Over at the ToRANTs blog, there’s an article that looks at Apple’s iTunes Store’s environmental impact. In the article, authour “chiggs” writes that the current rate of 5 million songs sold via iTunes per day is the equivalent of selling 416,000 CDs daily. “By buying your music from the Apple Store,” writes “chiggs”, “you are helping to prevent a stack of CD’s (in their jewel cases) 2.6 miles high from having to be manufactured PER DAY.” The ensuing discussion in the commentshas a back-and-forth over other aspects of iTunes’ environmental footprint, including the electricity consumed by a computer rather than a CD player, the environmental impact of discarded iPods, and so on.

Reading the article, I was reminded of another piece whose author suggested that Google could save the consumption of 3000 megawatt-hours a year by simply changing the background colour of their pages from white to black. The reasoning: an all-black page consumes about 15 watts less than an all-white one. Multiply by the 200 million queries Google gets daily and assuming an averageof 10 seconds of viewing results, and you get 550,000 hours’ worth of Google viewing on desktops worldwide. A fifteen-watt savings on each monitor makes for 8.3 megawatt-hours saved every day, or about 3000 megawatt-hours saved every year.

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