Security vendor McAfee recently released the details of a new study by ICF International which sought to measure the carbon footprint of spam on the web.
The conclusion of that study was that –
The global annual energy used to transmit, process, and filter spam is the equivalent to powering 2.4 million homes, and spam filtering saves 135 terawatt hours–the equivalent of taking 13 million cars off the road.
The study also concludes the average spam email can be linked to an average greenhouse gas emission of about 0.3 grams of CO2.
LINKING SPAM TO GLOBAL WARMING
Considering then that spam email is such a massive problem it would be fair to say that spam can be named as a significant contributor to global warming, right?
Well, not only do I think global warming is a big hoax, but I would query how the findings of this study translate into real world usage patterns.
The report suggests that most of the energy consumption associated with spam (around 80% in fact) is attributable to end-users deleting spam and searching for legitimate email within their inboxes.
I wouldn’t argue with those figures but I’m guessing they are related to the amount of energy a computer uses for the amount of time that the user is reading/deleting spam?
The problem with that, however, is that it assumes that the computer user’s PC would be switched off, and therefore not drawing power, for that period of time if they weren’t dealing with spam.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my PC is typically switched on for long periods of time and left dormant whilst I’m doing other things, meaning I am wasting energy irrespective of whether spam arrives in my inbox during that period of time or not.
Therefore, whilst spam email is incredibly annoying, it is not causing me to unduly waste energy.
Not that I think my computer usage is going to melt any glaciers and plunge the world into a catastrophic period of climate change anyway!