April 17, 2009

Email Spam Damages the Environment

McAfee – the maker of personal computer security software – has reported that spam is not only a nuisance that hinders productivity, it also damages the environment and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

The company has released the Carbon Footprint of Spam, which says that the annual energy used to transmit, process and filter spam totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours. That's equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes, with the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion gallons of gasoline.

The study looked at global energy expended to create, store, view and filter spam in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Mexico, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

McAfee points to late 2008 as an example of the potential energy savings of stopping spam. When McColo, a major source of online spam, was taken offline, global spam volume dropped 70%. According to McAfee, the energy saved during the time it took spammers to rebuild their sending capacity was equal to taking 2.2 million cars off the road that day, proving the impact of the 62 trillion spam e-mails that are sent each year.

Read more, including critics of the report.

[via Yahoo Tech]

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