CO2 Stats = A Carbon Neutral Internet?

By Adam Brock

Hot on the heels of Real Costs comes CO2 Stats, a blog widget that calculates emissions from the time you spend online and offsets them through Sustainable Travel International. Developed by Tim Sullivan and Alex Wissner-Gross, two PhD students at Harvard and Yale, CO2 Stats has the ambitious goal of “making the entire internet carbon neutral”.

I’m a little skeptical that that’ll happen anytime soon (especially given the questionable effectiveness of carbon offsets), but Sullivan and Gross’ early success is impressive: a week after its official launch, CO2 stats reaches 170,000 users per month. Now if I could just figure out a way to install the plugins on WGY, I just might become a proud CO2 Statistician.


2 thoughts on “CO2 Stats = A Carbon Neutral Internet?

  1. Doubting Thomas says:

    It’s nice to want to make people aware that every breathe they take affects the environment, even in a small way. But this code is no more than a distracting gewgaw. There’s no way to tell how they are calculating the number. I mean, another one 10-millionth of a pound could be due to be normal fluctuation in the power grid. Worse, who’s keeping track of my browsing habits? The number of “pounds” increases each time I reload, even if I empty the cache and come back new… so how does it keep track (being Javascript)? Don’t like it one bit.

  2. Another doubter says:

    I want to echo doubting Thomas. I applaud your interest in reducing the emissions from viewing this website. However, I do not recommend using CO2 Stats. Wissner-Gross and Sullivan have not divulged how they calculate the emissions from a website. They are also clearly confused about what constitutes a carbon offset – they equate renewable energy credits (RECs) with carbon offsets, but they are not the same. Because they can’t prove that A) they are coming close to reality with their estimate of CO2 emitted from a website B) they are actually buying the RECs they say they are buying or C) that these RECs are actually reducing the amount of CO2 emitted into the air, I would not trust their service, and would not recommend adding to their publicity.

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