Amid the talk of APIs and mapping the social graph, Twitter engineers are also thinking about energy.
During the Chirp Twitter developer conference last week, there was a brief presentation on how much energy is consumed by tweeting (hat tip to Earth2Tech for uncovering).
In the presentation (video starts around 3:05), Raffi Krikorian from Twitter's API team says that running Twitter translates into about 50 million grams of carbon dioxide per day, or one metric ton.
For comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates that a typical passenger car emits about 5.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in a year.
Krikorian says that tweeting a message consumes significantly less power than doing a Google search. He said that a tweet moving through the system emits about 0.02 grams of carbon dioxide, which is about 10 times less than Google. (Google last year estimated the number to be 0.2 grams per search query.)
Calculating the environmental footprint of a single action on the Internet is complex, when you consider how interconnected devices are and the energy required to make the devices people use. In his blog, Krikorian said that his calculation takes into account the energy required to "pump a tweet through our infrastructure," which includes hosted Amazon storage, Internet or cellular networking, and the energy used by the device a person is tweeting from.
Because of its size, Google is using a lot more energy than Twitter. But Twitter appears to be thinking about improving efficiency, which makes a lot of sense purely from an economic stand point as it lowers operating costs. Krikorian's conclusion: "We can do better. We're making ourselves more efficient."