paleshadows writes "The Times Online reports that researchers claim that each query submitted to Google has a quantifiable impact. Specifically, two queries performed through a desktop computer generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a cup of tea. From the article: 'While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 [whereas] boiling a kettle generates about 15g [...] Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centers. However, with more than 200m Internet searches estimated daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the Internet is provoking concern. A recent report [argues that] the global IT industry generate[s] as much greenhouse gas as the world's airlines — about 2% of global CO2 emissions.'"
Google makes an interesting focus for such claims, but similar extrapolations have been done before about, for instance, the energy costs of sending a short email.