Measuring the Carbon Footprint of Spam

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Looking for more reasons to hate spam? Here’s one. According to McAfee and ICF International, annual spam energy use totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh). That’s equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes in the United States, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion United States gallons of gasoline.

This comes from The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report (download here).

The good news is that spam filtering makes a difference. According to McAfee, spam filtering saves 135 TWh of electricity per year. That’s like taking 13 million cars off the road.

In fact, if every inbox were protected by a state-of-the art spam filter, organizations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by approximately 75% or 25 TWh per year. That’s equivalent
to taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

Filtering spam doesn’t seem like a huge environmental contribution when there are 42,000 gallons of oil from the Deep Horizon oil disaster still gushing into the Gulf Coast every day, but when you look at it from a global perspective, it makes a difference.

Besides, I can’t do anything about the oil in the Gulf Coast. But I can do something about my spam.

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