What's The Carbon Footprint of Sending A Text Message?

As I have known, Google did indeed issue a statement describing in detail how it had arrived at the figure of 0.2 grams of CO², after first calculating it requires 0.0003 kWh of energy to perform a typical search. Or to put it another way, it claimed that a typical individual's Google use for an entire year would produce about the same amount of CO² as putting a single load through a washing machine. The bulk of this energy expenditure is due to the vast network of servers and data centres that a company such as Google has to maintain. Mobile phone network providers are not dissimilar in that they are also in the business of processing and "transporting" huge quantities of digitised data.

As one of telecommunications provider, Vodafone agreed to put its brightest brains to the task of calculating the footprint of a text message. "Last year, the Vodafone network used 2,600 gigawatt hours of energy to carry 60,000 terabytes of data," said a spokeswoman. "Since a single SMS has a maximum length of 140 bytes, we estimate that last year it took an average 5 microwatts-hour (a microwatt being one millionth of a watt) to deliver an SMS message." To put this in terms of emissions, that's 0.000003 grams of CO².

Vodafone added a few caveats, though: it is only including the energy used to power its "radio access network" (which includes its masts) and not the "core network" it leases from providers such as BT. It also isn't including the energy used by handsets. This at least goes some way to explaining why the figures seems so low compared to Google's. After all, if you accept both Vodafone's and Google's figures, a text message produces 60,000 times less CO² than an internet search.

However you crunch these figures, though, the most significant energy burden is still going to be the power needed to produce, distribute and then charge your mobile phone. And, frankly, there are other far more energy-intensive areas of our lifestyles to tackle first.

source: Guardian - Environment


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