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 Using Second Life is not green?

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This month’s issue of Wired magazine has an interesting Second Life statistic in the Mr. Know-It-All column. Here’s the precise excerpt:

“According to Julian Bleecker, cofounder of design think tank the Near Future Laboratory, the average Second Life avatar requires 1,248 kilowatt hours of electricity to “exist” for a year — 153 kWh for the servers and 1,095 kWh for your PC. In terms of carbon emissions, that’s roughly the equivalent of driving 1,800 miles in a BMW 750Li”

Greenwash Thy Avatar, Mr. Know-It-All, Wired Magazine, June 2008

As a frequent Second Life user, my first reaction was a bit of shock. Am I really harming Mother Earth by simply logging in to Second Life 4 to 10 hours a day? Shame and guilt starts to creep in. When this amount of energy is multiplied over the ~60,000 concurrent users of Second Life at any given time, the environmental impact starts to look significant. However, after more thought, I was quick to realize that the amount of energy is only wasted if that time was instead spent doing something away from my computer. When not using SL, I will probably be doing some client/server related computer work instead. Computers and the internet are just pervasive everyday tools for most people nowadays. Hence, the culprit is not Second Life (or any application for that matter), it is really more of the machine. Unfortunately, the article does not offer much suggestion on alternative laptops and PCs that are relatively greener.

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