We often think of the internet—which drives so many aspects of our lives—as a carbon-free cloud transferring data through the air. But the internet relies on vast physical resources. Underground cables power massive data centers, and the vast machines that transmit our searches often depend on fossil fuels.
Some innovative solutions are being explored to increase data centre efficiency, and save power from traditional air conditioning. Google for example, reports that its 14 data centres—powering Gmail, YouTube and Search across four continents—use 50 per cent less energy than typical ones.