Looking for a search engine ecological? Have you heard of Ecosia or Lilo? You are doing well: the vast world of the web alone represents almost 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the new technologies that invade our daily lives are increasingly connected today. Data centers and servers are mostly powered by fossil fuels such as coal and nuclear, we notice a real awareness on the part of Internet users who are moving more towards more and more ecological navigation solutions. .
If simple gestures such as disabling notifications, emptying the mailbox regularly or sending mails without attachments offer the possibility of reduce digital pollution, some see even further to allow users the possibility of reduce their carbon footprint on the internet. The creation of ecological search engines is one of these solidarity initiatives which aim to develop digital ecology. Let’s take a closer look.
What is an ecological search engine?
If you expect to read that an ecological search engine pollutes less than the best known such as Bing, Google or Yahoo, you may be disappointed. It doesn’t matter which search engine it is, it will nevertheless remain a meta-engine that will use more or less the same technologies than any other application.
You still need a specific element to be able to talk about a united search engine, and this lies in the way of donate the profits. Born from the observation that the revenues generated by advertisements on search engines are relatively high, these so-called ecological engines choose to donate a portion of these revenues to humanitarian, social or environmental causes in order to offset their carbon footprint.
What is the CO2 impact of your online research?
The Internet is a great tool that allows us to access all possible and imaginable information in a few clicks. Now deeply rooted in our daily routine, the health crisis that we have been going through since December 2019 has only further consolidated the experience we have on the web: online races, online sports lessons, online dating, social networks and watching videos, teleworking, etc. However, every time we are on the web, we participate, without necessarily being aware of it, in digital pollution.
According to Green IT, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the internet varies as follows:
- Web users contribute 47% of emissions.
- The network at 28%.
- The Data Center, or data center, up to 25%.
What are the origins of digital pollution?
Digital pollution represents all pollution generated by new technologies (smartphones, tablets, computers, connected objects, etc.). But did you know that although the CO2 emissions of this whole industry are due in part to equipment manufacturing, the other half is caused byinternet use ? In short, the web represents a network of almost one million kilometers of cables and more than 3,000 data centers (emails, web pages, photos, music, videos, etc.) spread across the planet.
The video streaming alone accounts for 60% of data flows on the internet. In question, the size of the file. Take the example of a film on Netflix in very high resolution (4K), it represents about 10 GB, or 200,000 times more than an email sent without an attachment. Each year, the world consumption of video streaming posts a sad record of 300 million tons of CO2!
In addition, according to the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), if the internet were to be a country on its own, it would be the 6thth largest consumer of energy on the planet. Still according to ADEME, the sharp increase in users on a global scale and the personal consumption of data suggests a doubling of the carbon footprint by 2025. Not very glorious as a forecast…
What are the most commonly used energy sources?
While more and more companies are committing or thinking about committing to the use of 100% renewable energies such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydraulic energies, some on the other hand like Netflix, Twitter or even Amazon are lagging behind and continue to use fossil fuels such as gas, coal and nuclear.
Is carbon credit a solution?
The carbon credit represents a unit which equals one tonne of CO2 sequestered or avoided. To illustrate this definition, a reforestation project, as does a search engine which we will discuss below, will sequester 10,000 tonnes of CO2, which could give rise to the allocation of 10,000 carbon credits if the criteria are sufficiently met. However, this method unfortunately has its limits since a planted tree is not necessarily a growing tree and although the goal is to allow trees to absorb the carbon released, this phenomenon varies depending on the age and species of the tree …
We can complete this example with the exchange of quotas set up by the Kyoto agreements and which consists of buy carbon credits to companies or even countries invested in an eco-responsible digital approach. But although this system is interesting, if we take a country like India for example, it is legitimate to wonder if it will be able to offset its carbon emissions by buying credits from an eco-responsible company. ‘a small Canadian town for example.
So do green search engines really compensate for pollution?
As we indicated above, some companies target thedigital ecology and want to allow Internet users to reduce their carbon footprint. From ecological or solidarity search engines, we retained :
Ecosia is the most famous green search engine on the market for ecological meta-engines. Seducing internet users for its reforestation program, this non-profit association receives its advertisements and search results from Bing.
Thus, by carrying out research on Ecosia, advertisements related to your requests will allow it to generate income. Part of the profits from these will then be used to plant trees in the Southern Hemisphere. It is necessary count about 45 searches to allow the planting of a tree. Knowing that a tree absorbs between 20 and 50 kg of CO2 per year and that a search on the web generates 10 grams of carbon, the compensation is sufficient. In addition, having built two photovoltaic plants in order to cover its electricity needs, the carbon footprint of this company is very promising.
His partner Bing is not totally green since it uses, according to Microsoft’s statements, only 50% of renewable energy to power its data centers. We still welcome the giant’s desire to have a negative carbon impact by 2030.
If your job requires you to do regular web searches, this ethical search engine is for you. Using search results provided by Google, Ecogine thus makes it possible to take advantage of the algorithms of this web giant while supporting an ecological cause.. Best of all, this is a French search engine !
The system is simple, each click made on an advertisement on Ecogine generates 10% income donated to environmental associations elected by…. You !
To go further in limiting energy consumption, Ecogine goes so far as to use the services of the Infomaniak host. The latter, which wants to be ecologically neutral, has a data center located in Switzerland and is naturally ventilated. It therefore does not require air conditioning and is exclusively powered by renewable energies. 1% of the host’s turnover is also donated to environmental or social associations.
The results of the green search engine Ecogine are therefore very positive, even if its partner Google only uses 30% of renewable energies.. But the American giant is still making efforts to offset its environmental footprint by using the carbon offset system that we mentioned above.
Other engine French ecological research, Lilo is not an association like the first two that we have just mentioned. SAS for profit, this ethical search engine offers Internet users the possibility of support social or environmental actions up to 50% of the company’s turnover, of which 10% is exclusively reserved for carbon offset initiatives.
The search results for this meta-engine from Yahoo, Google and Bing, it is impossible to determine the share that each of them represents even if Yahoo seems to be the one which uses more renewable energies compared to Google and Bing.
Lilo’s carbon footprint, however, contrasts with its choice of hosts (OVH and Online) who do not seem particularly concerned about the environment, but the company’s objective of more humanitarian actions rather than preserving nature, this does not prevent it from attracting more and more users for good reasons.
Do these eco-responsible search engines also respect your personal data?
You should certainly be reassured by reading on these ecological search engines that your personal data is important to them? Beware of the emotional lift that will follow, it is not! These ecological search engines that we have just presented to you indeed all use their partner’s advertising network (Google, Yahoo and Bing). As advertising is their means of generating income, they must be targeted, which requires, even partially and temporarily, the use of some of your confidential data.
Do not panic, however, if you refuse that your personal data be used, whether your search engine is ecological or not, you always have the possibility to refuse their exploitation by going to the “private life” pages of each metasearch engine. But if you refuse, you do not participate in the financing system of these various green companies since if it is impossible for them to generate advertisements targeted to your queries, the search engines do not make money, and without money, no reforestation and no animal rescue. It’s a personal choice!
So, which green search engine will you choose to balance your carbon footprint on the net?