I got hundreds of comments on the "Black Google" post. First, thanks for posting. I'm sorry I couldn't get back to every person individually.
The comments ranged from the thoughtful and the funny to the sublime and bitter. Many gave advice on how to fix the numbers so that they were more accurate, which was obviously needed, thanks. Some were adamant on the idiocy of the whole concept, repeatedly posting their message multiple times on multiple forums (see Tireless Rebutter for an explanation of the meme.). Others thought it had something to do with the racial disposition of the Google staff, and at least one person proposed "Black Google" for the title of the next Quentin Tarantino movie. If that happens, I want a cut.
The ones I liked best were those that took the idea and ran with it - the two guys who actually did some testing; the one who proposed some alternative color schemes using navy, maroon, and green, which only use one more watt than black; the stylish extension for Firefox; the guy who ran right out and made the interface, the guy who made a religious site based on a misspelling on the previous interface. Ha ha, all very clever.
Many people tried to justify the white background in a variety of ways, some valid, some questionable, and some just weird. One guy said he regularly worked with all the lights off and used the white screen to light the room. Many thought that the black screen would be depressing to users, or ugly, and a few justified it because the heat generated warmed the room! I didn't know Google, the monitor makers, or the planet were particularly interested in the heating business at this point in time. Some thought that turning off your monitor and 'taking cold showers' were better ways to save energy, suggesting that somehow the amount of energy one could save was finite in nature.
Finally, there were lots of mathematicians out there who shovelled out facts and figures, many of which were no better than my first estimate e.g. 95 percent of all monitors out there are LCDs, Google would lose half their business going to a black screen, making the switch would only save .00001 % of the US energy consumption. Of the ones that were valid, most concluded that it was a waste of time, that a few hundred thousand dollars was nothing. I guess I can only respond by saying that I'm sorry I'm working outside your framework for change; would you prefer gas rationing, and the worldwide riots that will come with it? Personally, I like society pretty much as it is, more or less; I wish something would match my socks up when they come out of the laundry, but I realize we have to change a few things. And if we reject spending a few days pondering a simple change that will save .00001 % of the energy in America, maybe a lot more, then I'm wondering what we are going to consider. Because doing nothing will end up in violence.