As Google ventures into the artificial intelligence market, the company revealed that it’s using an astounding amount of water.
Tech companies use immense amounts of water every year to cool their machines, which expend tons of energy. In its 2023 Environmental Report, Google showed that it used 5.6 billion gallons of water in 2022, a 20% jump in water usage compared to its 2021 numbers, as Futurism reported.
The news outlet attributes much of this to the company’s increasing plunge into AI training, which uses a considerable amount of energy.
Why is water usage important?
As global temperatures continue to increase, weather patterns are growing more volatile worldwide, which means that access to water is becoming an increasingly murky problem across the globe.
On the West Coast of the United States, where Google and most other American tech companies are headquartered, a considerable portion of the region regularly experiences moderate to severe droughts, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Droughts can have noticeable impacts on drinking water, sanitation, food production, and disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Much of the water used by tech companies like Google isn’t used for drinking, sanitation, food production, or other public goods, which could lead to serious problems in areas with inconsistent access to water.
What’s being done about water usage at tech companies?
Google is making attempts to stay ahead of its water problem. According to its Environmental Report, the company claimed its new Bay View Campus runs on green energy and is net water-positive.
Chrissy Lee, a spokesperson for Google, told Gizmodo in an email, “We’re working to address the impact of our water consumption through our climate-conscious data center cooling approach and water stewardship strategy, including our 120% replenishment target.”
The company also contracts watershed projects that have replenished around 271 million gallons of water — which is substantial but ultimately amounts to about 6% of the company’s 2022 freshwater usage, according to Google. To maintain a healthy environmental impact, the company must increase its efforts to offset its water usage.
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