The Internet's carbon footprint is swelling, threatening major companies and even the planet, the Guardian reports. As its footprint expands by more than 10% annually, surpassing even the airline industry, ever-growing data centers and web servers are putting companies at financial risk during a recession. "We need to rein in the energy consumption," said a Sun Microsystems executive.
Computer giants like Google and Microsoft have tried to reduce energy use with more efficient machines, but keep exact numbers under wraps. One analyst estimates that US data centers burned 61 billion kilowatt hours of energy in 2006—enough to power the UK for 2 months. But Google has pooh-poohed any concerns. "One mile of driving completely dwarfs the cost of a search," one executive said.