Google’s New Environmental Report Shows Alarming 50% Spike In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Due To AI

Google is in the spotlight after its latest environmental report showcased a record-breaking high of greenhouse gas emissions.

As per the report, the emissions witnessed a 50% spike, which is the greatest seen in the past five years. This is all thanks to data centers consuming large amounts of energy and giving out emissions, the company added.

Owing it to the spike in AI, Google says the data centers were fueling the demand for this trend and it’s certainly alarming, not to mention a significant hindrance to the company’s path of achieving carbon neutrality.

Every year, the search engine giant rolls out the report to display how much progress it has made in this attempt to go green but from what this year’s stats reveal, it’s nothing to be proud of and far from the environmentally friendly goals that Google wishes to attain by the year 2030.

The company rolled out close to 14.3 million metric tons of CO2 in 2023 alone and that was 49% higher than the year 2019 and nearly 13% greater than 2022.

Google very proudly announced how the rise in data centers used for fueling the rise in AI trends was to blame and as more AI gets incorporated into a wide array of its products, the consumption would similarly increase.

The challenge is one that the company has been dealing with for a long time and Google says things are only going to get more difficult as it makes more investments in its respective technical infrastructure.

The report similarly highlighted how the environment is forced to suffer through the explosive AI trend on Earth. Several tech giants including Google, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon are keen on making billion-dollar investments related to AI but also spending a fortune to train their models.

This does not come easy, not to mention the huge amounts of energy resources needed to fuel it all. Meanwhile, reports have also spoken about how AI features make use of a lot of energy as well. Last year, researchers from an AI startup and the University of Carnegie Mellon proved how producing one picture through AI could use the same amount of energy needed to charge mobile phone devices.

In the same way, some tech analysts feel AI will soon double the electricity demand of users in the country and the overall consumption could end up diminishing the current electric supply for just two years.

It’s all very alarming and that’s probably why many tech giants including the likes of Microsoft are opening their eyes toward their attempts to go carbon-negative soon.

Meanwhile, this report by Google mentioned how its own data centers were making use of more water supplies than in the past so that they could maintain cooling due to increased AI workloads. A lot of those entail the likes of Google Search’s AI Overviews which has already been the spectacle of massive debate after asking users to consume rocks or use glue to stick toppings across a pizza.

When we look at figures from the previous year, the Android maker’s data center used 17% more water supplies than the year before that. That’s close to 6.1 billion liters which could irrigate approximately 41 whole golf courses each year in the southwest of the US.

The fact that Google is working on bettering the environment and not just focusing on profits gained through the launch of AI across its products is certainly music to environmental activists’ ears but at the same time, a lot of work needs to be done in this domain if the firm wishes to stay on track with its goals for the end of this decade. Do you agree?

Image: DIW-Aigen

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