Annual Spam Emissions Could Power 3.1M Homes

Dennis Faas's picture

We all hate spam for the same reasons: it is annoying and wastes time that could be better spent doing something else. Now, a new study claims that spam not only affects our Internet routines, but is also hazardous to the ozone layer.

The report was issued by McAfee Inc., creators of anti-virus and computer protection software. The popular security tech company claims that the energy used to transmit, process and filter spam emails wastes a total of 22 billion kilowatt hours each year.

Every Spam Message is a Carbon Footprint

Spam emails create a large amount of unneeded carbon emissions that do significant damage to our planet. As the number of junk emails increase over time, our ozone layer also suffers.

To put into perspective just how much carbon is emitted from junk emails, the yearly environmental impact of spam is almost equal to a person driving around the world 1.6 million times! (Source:

Of course, a single unnecessary email only consumes 0.3 grams of carbon: but when multiplied, the impact is severe.

It is estimated that in 2008 alone, 62 trillion messages were rendered spam. The carbon emitted from these emails is equivalent to the same amount of energy that would power 3.1 million homes. (Source: Another interesting fact: 80 percent of all energy expended from spam comes during the "deletion" process.

Only Part of the Problem

Although the report raised some insightful concerns, it should be noted that online carbon emissions are not the result of spam alone. Internet users expend a large amount of energy when conducting other routines like web surfing and reading legitimate emails.

McAfee warns that the best way to reduce the number of junk emails in your inbox is by consistently running an up-to-date filtering system and anti-spam software. While a very convenient thing for an anti-virus company to say, the advice is sound, nonetheless.

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