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Spam’s carbon footprint

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday April 16, 2009 )

While the meat product would likely have a sizeable carbon footprint, email spam doesn’t get off lightly either.

Far from just being an annoying and time sucking part of online life, all the spam floating around sucks up computing resources in sending it from one server to another; then stored and viewed (albeit briefly) on our own computers.

A study by McAfee on the environmental impact of spam found:

• Globally 62 trillion spam emails were sent in 2008

• Annual spam-related energy use totaled 33 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh), equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million US homes in the United States, or the equivalent of 3.1 million cars using two billion gallons of gasoline

• Spam filtering saves 135 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year; which is like taking 13 million cars off the road

• The average greenhouse gas emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide.

• 80% the energy consumption associated with spam comes from end users deleting the stuff and wasted time spent in opening it.

So not only are spammers incredibly annoying, they are environmental villains to boot! I’m sure that knowledge will set them all on the straight and narrow path of double opt-in email marketing only ;).

Read the full Carbon Footprint Of Email Spam report (PDF)

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