Surprise, surprise to find the Vancouver Sun newspaper of all folks running an article that the Internet is killing the planet.
It really isn’t the stretch that some of you may think it is. Say you do a Google search. Your query kicks into action about 1,000 servers at various Google data centers. Those computers scan billions of web pages already in Google’s archives on your behalf and bring back a result (usually 1.8+ million other links you could access). When you take one billion daily Google searches, together with some 60 million Facebook status updates each day, and pile on 50 million daily tweets plus 250 billion emails per day, you’re using a whole bunch of electricity, and not just at your end of the computer.
The bulk of all this energy being used is from a fast-growing network of huge “server farms” or data centers that are the backbone of the Internet. These are the computers that make the Internet what it is, routing traffic and storing all of that ever-expanding globs of data. The data centers are hi-tech, hi-security facilities, some the size of five Wal-Marts, packed from floor to ceiling with tens of thousands of computers. Not only do all those computers have an insatiable appetite for energy, but they also require hi-capacity cooling equipment to prevent overheating.
For example, as the article notes — Apple’s 46,000-square-metre iDataCenter is about to open in North Carolina (which worked very hard to recruit them and the jobs it brings to their cheap electric state) will use an estimated 100 megawatts of power — as much as about 100,000 homes. Ah, but there is more: Google has a 44,000-square-metre data center already in the state that is expected to consume an estimated 60 to 100 MW. Facebook has a 28,000-square-metre facility under construction there that will use another 40 MW.
To put it another way, if the Internet was a country, it would be the planet’s fifth-biggest consumer of power, ahead of India and Germany, and that need is expected to nearly double by 2020. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world’s electricity.
Now here is the kicker – all of those North Carolina data centers are powered by electricity generated from cheap and highly polluting coal power. Even Greenpeace likes to call the three facilities “North Carolina’s dirty data triangle.”
So after all the lectures from paper atheists on how bad the environmental impact is from print Yellow Pages directories, we need to use coal, one of the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the world’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the nirvana of a more efficient and greener world we are supposed to be getting from the advent of the Internet.
I hope the workers are driving to these data centers in a Chevy Volt. Then we’d have some polar bears really upset as their Greenland glaciers
One final thought – if Al Gore invented the Internet, how come he never blames himself in his rants about what we are doing to the environment??
Yes, there are other voices in the industry that clearly understand how absurd some of the commentary has been on the whole opt-out discussion, as well as the totally anti-small business politics that local legislators have launched in San Francisco & Seattle.
One such voice is Dick Larkin who writes the TheCommando newsletter which focuses on small business. His most recent summary carrying the title of “The election didn’t solve this” outlines the key issues and misstatements in a clear, concise, yet powerfully review: http://conta.cc/avfOyB #yp
The thing that the politicians miss is that directories drive substantial local business activity, and curtailing directories would suppress the local economy.
Let’s hope (an overused word these past few years) that the 99% of those who understand the value of the print directories, and the millions of small businesses that use the products to promote their businesses, can help change (another totally abused word) those local legislators that don’t get it and are bowing to a small group.
As Dick suggested:
I’d love to see exactly how Senator Yee spent his campaign funds and what measures he took to ensure that he did not print, mail, or distribute his campaign message to San Francisco residents who were not interested in hearing from him.
Now that would be a real useful opt-out program. The volume of crap I received during this last election was easily 2x the volume of paper used in the local directories that I receive once a year. But somehow groups lead by Seattle City Councilman O’Brien are more focused on the 3% of the waste stream (their calculations, not mine) that they say (EPA pegs it at just .3%) print directories are causing.
But I’m sorry, we’re talking about politicians. They get to play by a separate set of rules don’t they?
That’s the exact title from the Aurora Sentinel on March 3rd. As the article reported:
Colorado lawmakers have killed a bill that would have allowed people to stop getting telephone books delivered for five years.A House committee rejected the proposal Tuesday after directory publishers argued they’re already stopping delivery for up to three years to people who request it online. While they said they had no incentive to send books to people who don’t want them, unionized publisher employees feared the bill could cost jobs.
The print Yellow Pages of course. Channel 2 News in Reno, NV (link) offers this insight:
If you are looking for ways to go green, look no further than your phone book.
In all the yellow pages, you will find a 32 page guide with tips on how to become more environmentally friendly.
They include everything from where to recycle things like paper and plastic to information on the Lockwood Landfill. “Whether you want your phone books or not, everyone gets one so they are good information and you can also find information on illegal dumping,” said Maia Dickerson with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful.
The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) recently released new data that shows that Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) experienced double digital growth in 2008. According to comScore, Internet Yellow Pages searches grew 22% from 3.8 billion to 4.6 billion, in 2008.
“The growth in Internet Yellow Pages usage in 2008 emphasizes the increased trend toward local content on the Internet,” said Yellow Pages Association president Neg Norton. “Consumers are seeking highly specialized, localized business listings when and where they want it and they are increasingly finding it on our online platforms.”
Even with a tough economic climate for all advertising, overall usage of Yellow Pages products (print and Internet) totaled 16.9 billion references in 2008 compared to 17.2 billion in 2007 – a 2% overall decline. The print Yellow Pages references in 2008 were 12.3 billion compared to 13.4 billion in 2007.
Given the trends in all advertising media, the overall results have be viewed as somewhat positive. Of course the Yellow Pages are not immune to the advertiser cutbacks that have been ravaging other media such as newspapers, local TV, and even out of home. But clearly the impact on Yellow Pages has been smaller than many of the other advertising media. And an 8% drop in print usage is hardly a sign that the products are “dead” or will be dying next week as some would want you to believe. We still talking about people turned to those print directories more than 12 billion times last year at a point where they are in an active, ready-to-buy mode. Hence, the books still remain an important source for consumers during these tough economic times.
It comes as no surprise that the online local search products are the most vibrant, growing items now. But even that growth points towards the positive transformation publishers are going through in a the move from a one product media solution to becoming a true multi-channel consultative advertising solutions provider.
As we have commented to several financial entities — don’t confuse the debt issues at some of the publishers as an indication of the strength of the overal industry. It still is the best advertising ROI program a small business can get anywhere.
As we’ve said many times, sure, the Internet can provide a wealth of information for a web-savy user. But it doesn’t totally replace all traditional meida, especially the print Yellow Pages.
From Vivek Naik in a post labeled “Yellow Pages Holds Its Own In The e-Age of Business Searches“, specific to office supplies:
“In March, businesses typically begin kicking back into gear and start thinking about their supply needs for the upcoming year,” said Scott Cullen, editorial director for OfficeSOLUTIONS magazine.The fact is illustrated by the example of people stocking up on supplies for office articles by checking out the Yellow Pages for suitable products, leads and references. According to the report, the most popular articles searches are for computers, computer parts and peripherals, tables, chairs, notebooks, pens, visiting cards and multi-purpose printers.According to the Yellow Pages, 91 percent of stores, warehouses or retail outlets where products are finally bought are mentioned in the related referenced Yellow Pages ad. In terms of the products, 65 percent are used for office use.Statistics also reveal that age groups are generally between 25 to 49 years old and include college graduates living in homes where the cumulative income of household members is at least $61,000 per annum.
Kudo’s to Wake County (local county where Raleigh is based) for expanding the opportunity for residents to recycle more. Specific to phone books, this just announced:
In the past, Wake County offered drop off sites during a three-month period when telephone books were delivered. Over the last several years, directory distribution has increased and become a year-round process. The County has decided to expand the program at existing facilities, to keep pace with the market, giving residents and businesses the opportunity to recycle telephone books at anytime.
This effort is beng sponsored by AT&T Yellow Pages and R.H. Donnelley (publisher of Embarq Yellow Pages). And yes, both companies are promoting the recycling sites in their respective directories.
When to comes to searching for a business or service, every thing from restaurants to landscape contractors to tire dealers, people use a multimedia strategy with both “old” and new media, based on a recent report from Knowledge Networks.
In results presented from a poll conducted in the spring among respondents age 13 and older, the report says 77% turn to print Yellow Pages. Yep, despite what you may be hearing those print phone books continue to be a preferred local shopping resource. In fact 48% said this is the source they use most often.
Of course online can be also be a valuable source when you are “browsing” for information. Search engines were the second most popular information source with 49% saying they use them to find a business or service, and 21% indicated they the Web is the most-often-used source.
The only other resources to register double digit usage in the survey were Internet Yellow Pages – IYP’s (36%, 13% used most often), free or fee-based 411 (30%, 8% used most often) and newspapers (19% , but only 2% used most often).
The study also shoots holes in the popular perception that people are roaming the streets with new web-enabled mobile devices in hand seeking those sames products or services. Currently just 5% included “mobile search” among their sources, with just 1% saying they use mobile search most often.
just as this blogger did:
Well, last night the power went out just before 7:00, and I used our phone book for the first time in years
Now just image the many other things he’s going to find in that Yellow Pages…
YPA President Neg Norton was intereviewed by Mobile Marketing this week (click here). It’s an interview you should check out as it shows the range of media advertising products that publishers are bringing to small and midsized businesses:
What role will mobile play for the Yellow Pages industry?
Mobile fits the Yellow Pages strategy of making information available anytime, anywhere.
Accessed shopping guide or price comparison services at least once per month. Source: comScore M:Metrics
Additionally, we believe wireless access affords us the opportunity to attract new customers beyond those who purchase print and Internet advertising.
In a related story, in this weeks YP Talk newsletter we also provided an article on a key industry supplier – AdFare, who is working with publishers to help them repuprose the video ads they have been adding to their Internet ads to also work in a mobile environemnt (click here)