I have had numerous people send me articles about Google and their search results about Global Warming. Other blogs have picked up on this and the overall discussion from the skeptic side is that Google has failed in their maxim of “Do No Evil.” I happen to disagree with this.
First off Google is public business and as such is almost required to stick to the idea that global warming is real. Find me a public company that takes the official stance that global warming isn’t real. I have not been able to find one. So I don’t really care that Google takes the stance about global warming that it does. Public companies must show environmental responsibility these days. As an engineer I fully understand the legal and public relations responsibility in that regard.
As for the issue of the Google search results related to global warming. The article itself shows that Google is not unreasonable in that regard either.
“The results suggest that often, Google leads people to accurate information about climate change. Fifty-two percent of the 980 sites contained clear statements in line with the vast majority of peer-reviewed climate science evidence. For example, if you had searched for “climate change myths” in early May, you would have found this Environmental Defense Fund site, which says, “The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it.””
So 52% of the 980 websites were pro-global warming. They also state that 11% of websites provided the skeptical view of global warming. With the rest being a mix of Wikipedia and news articles. Obviously Wikipedia counts as a pro-global warming site as certain contributors are known to tilt slightly in that direction.
That general searches tilt like that is expected for any results. I would not expect a general search about global warming to point to a balanced discussion about the topic. I would expect it to go to what people are looking for. What Google does best is find what people are looking for. The take away from the Yale article is that skeptical points of view show up too much for their comfort.
I know that Google accounts for 90% of the search traffic that this website gets. Google is doing pretty much what I expect a modern public company to do. They are big and they direct a lot of the search traffic which gives them power, but I still use it and have no problem finding what I am looking for.
In the end that is what matters. The debate about global warming is not going to be won by worrying about what Google is doing with its search engine. They keep it working despite the ongoing efforts to game the system. I am happy with the results I get using Google and plan to continue using them.