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Don't look this up on Google... please

Google may be a giant in the search engine business, but alas, it's not a jolly green giant.

Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to read the news. If a friend hadn't sent me a link to a story in the New Scientist (one of the best magazines around -- the website is excellent, the print version even better and worth every penny of the $75/year subscription), I wouldn't have known how much energy an internet search costs and I wouldn't be feeling guilty everytime I blithely went to Google or Bing to find out some non-essential bit of trivia.

But too late -- she did send the link -- the story's called "Search engines' dirty secret" and it can be found at Don't read it if you want to continue searching on the Internet conscience-free. Read it if you've now got a morbid curiousity as to how much those searches are costing the environment. I won't spoil it for you.

Unfortunately, the Internet today runs on search. You want to go to a website and you can't remember quite what it is - enter part of its name in the search form in the top right of your browser. Even if you do remember the name of the website, sometimes it's easier to partly enter it in the search bar and then click on the first result that comes up. Search, thanks largely to Google, has become so fast and so accurate that it's now essential. I used to think it was free, but now, alas, I realize that it isn't. Google (and Bing and Yahoo...) cost the Earth.

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