How many cows are running the MMO you are playing? Sound like an attempt at surrealism? It is not, In this presentation I gave at the Login conference in 2009, In Researching this presentation I calculated how many MMO players, there where in 2007, how many servers that equated to, and as a result how much power was consumed. Then using the carbon exchange rate at the time, Determined the equivalent emissions from standardized dairy cow.
I walk the audience through the calculations, as an excellent introduction into the major operational cost factors of running ANY online operation, not just MMOs.
There are some nasty realities of economics that severely limit the amount of control over cost one has when delivering an online service. On the other hand, relatively speaking, online services is a very clean segment. In 2007, the ENTIRE MMO industry consumed less fuel than one tanker ship uses in a transpacific voyage from Shanghai to Los Angeles.