Artificial Intelligence Accelerates Global Warming: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Exceed 48%

Google has announced a 48% increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 2019, posing a threat to its ‘net zero emissions’ goal by 2030. The primary cause of emission growth is the expansion of data processing centers necessary for developing artificial intelligence systems.
Artificial Intelligence Accelerates Global Warming

Google shared critical data in its 2024 Environmental Report under the title ‘Increased Energy Demands from AI Computations.’ The report highlights that today’s data centers have evolved into vast collections of computer servers, yet AI requires significantly more than these task-specific machines, as illustrated by productive AI systems like ChatGPT consuming approximately 33 times more energy.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) BOOSTS EMISSIONS BY 48%

In summary, Google’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 48% over five years due to artificial intelligence. The report also reveals significant global disparities in data center impacts, with a majority of centers in Europe and America sourcing most of their energy from carbon-free sources, compared to less carbon-free energy usage in centers in the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Additionally, Google states that about two-thirds of its energy comes from carbon-free sources.

Tom Jackson, professor of information and knowledge management at Loughborough University, remarks, ‘When you go into a data center, you see that the environment is really hot and really noisy.’ He adds, ‘People often don’t realize the digital carbon footprint impact of everything they store in the cloud…’

Artificial Intelligence Accelerates Global Warming

SHOULDER THE BLAME FOR STORING DARK DATA

BBC’s technology correspondent Imran Rahman-Jones mentions Professor Jackson leads the Digital Decarbonization Design Group, striving to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of data usage, saying:

  • Data providers must closely collaborate with large organizations to steer away from storing dark data…

(Dark data: Data collected by organizations but not utilized or rarely used)

ZERO EMISSIONS DREAM UNATTAINABLE

However, even if dark data is not utilized, its storage still consumes substantial amounts of energy:

  • On average, 65% of data stored by an organization is dark data…

While Google supports the goal of achieving net-zero emissions for data centers by 2030, it’s now scientifically acknowledged that this will be “extremely challenging.” The increasing energy and water usage by artificial intelligence, especially as the sector continues rapid growth, raises a series of warnings.

bill gates

DESPITE BILL GATES’ INDIFFERENCE…

According to the Financial Times, forecasts in the UK suggest that advancements in artificial intelligence and quantum research will lead to a sixfold increase in demand on systems over the next decade. However, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates downplays the environmental impact of artificial intelligence. Gates suggests that AI will only increase electricity demand by between 2% and 6%.”

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