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Questions Nobody is Asking

The Vancouver Sun asks, in a headline that's catnip to Matt Drudge, "Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time?"

It's Saturday night, and you want to catch the latest summer blockbuster. You do a quick Google search to find the venue and right time, and off you go to enjoy some mindless fun.

Meanwhile, your Internet search has just helped kill the planet. Depending on how long you took and what sites you visited, your search caused the emission of one to 10 grams of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Sure, it's not a lot on its own — but add up all of the more than one billion daily Google searches, throw in 60 million Facebook status updates each day, 50 million daily tweets and 250 billion emails per day, and you're making a serious dent in some Greenland glaciers.

The Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world. We save on paper and mailing by sending an email. We can telecommute instead of driving to work. We can have a meeting by teleconference instead of flying to another city.

Ironically, despite the web's green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet's fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world's electricity.

So what? I'll believe the Vancouver Sun takes their own rhetoric seriously when they go off the Web and return to being a paper-only publication. Of course, then they'd have needless guilt over deforestation, but hey substituting environmentalism for religion means that you have to have guilt over something. In the meantime, Harold Camping, call your office -- you've got far too much competition in the Apocalypse Now department. 

And speaking of substitute religions and old media, as Investor's Business Daily notes:

The new editor of the New York Times is Jill Abramson, an old hand who thinks the Times is God. But the Gray Lady is one journalistic deity no one can resurrect.It was a statement so telling, and so over the top, that within hours the Times removed it from its Thursday web story announcing Bill Keller's replacement as executive editor.

"In my house growing up, the Times substituted for religion," said Abramson, the former Washington bureau chief. "If the Times said it, it was the absolute truth."

That is how the left-leaning media establishment in America wants it. But we now live in a time when "The Times" no longer inspires awe, and is far less feared by elected officials.

In 1971, the New York Times could help North Vietnam defeat the U.S. by publishing the Pentagon Papers. By 2005, its story on the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program operating without warrants against U.S. citizens with terrorist contacts could not — at least not yet — help the U.S. lose the global war on terror.

That's because we're in an era in which even a prominent TV network news anchorman, such as CBS' Dan Rather, can be unseated by fact checking conducted at lightning speed by blogs, talk radio, newspapers and magazines that refuse to toe the "mainstream media" line.

Which brings us back to where we started. To paraphrase the hothouse Sun, could the Net be reducing tensions by exposing environmental hoaxes and doomsday theories depressing the planet one web article at a time?

Related: "Those who pollute science with politics, emotion, and other things that are not science deserve our contempt. Expose them. Criticize them. They are great malefactors."