Wissner-Gross estimates every second someone spends browsing a simple web site generates roughly 20 milligrams of C02. Whether downloading a song, sending an email or streaming a video, almost every single activity that takes place in the virtual environment has an impact on the real one.

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As millions more go online each year some researchers say the need to create a green Internet ecosystem is not only imperative but also urgent.

“It is part of the whole sustainability picture,” Chris Large, head of research and development at UK-based Climate Action Group, told CNN.

A number of studies have highlighted the growing energy demands of computers. A 2007 report from research firm Gartner, for example, estimates the manufacturing, use and disposal of information and communications technology generates about two percent of the world’s greenhouse gases — similar to the level produced by the entire aviation industry.

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-Lacey T.