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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 16, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    Blame it on the spammers

    Ciara O'Brien

    Spammers have a bad reputation. In most cases, deservedly so.

    I knew spam was a problem – my own spam filter currently has 1,824 messages languishing in it – but I didn’t think that things had got this bad. Not only do they clog up your inbox, but spammers can now be blamed for killing the planet too.

    Apparently, someone in McAfee thought it would be a good idea to work out how much junk mail is winging its way to our inboxes each year, and exactly what impact it has on the environment.

    Bad news, spammers: the carbon footprint brigade have you in their sights.

    According to the Carbon Footprint of e-mail Spam report compiled by ICF International, about 62 trillion spam emails were sent in 2008, and spam accounts for about 80 per cent of all email messages sent. Creating, sending, receiving and storing junk mail uses more than 33 billion KWh of energy, generating 17 million tons of CO2 emissions.

    That irritating spam filter that occasionally bins a legitimate mesage might be helping to save the planet. Apparently spam filtering can save 135 TWh of electricity every year – the equivalent of taking 13 million cars off the road – and if every inbox was protected by a “state-of-the-art” spam filter, spam energy usage could be cut by 75 per cent, or 25 TWh per year. The equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road, fact fans.

    Spam filtering, on the other hand, accounts for only 16 per cent of spam-related energy use.

    So to summarise: spam bad. Very bad.

    • Dan says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t think the spammers care about the planet enough for this to convince them to stop spamming!!

    • petee says:

      it would help if women didn’t send on emails to 20 people as they will have good luck, guaranteed *joke*

    • Ciara says:

      I’ll send all mine your way then?

    • petee says:

      they might bring you luck

    • Ciara says:

      Or a free laptop/€1,000/mobile phone/copy of windows.

      because they are tracking it, you know.

    • petee says:

      so how do i power my house on spam?

    • Ciara says:

      Hang on. I’ll forward you an email that if you send to 200 people in the next 10 minutes, a pop up window will appear and explain it all, step by step.

    • petee says:

      only 200? cool

    • Ciara says:

      I’m trying to save the planet.

    • petee says:

      did you see this. we could be watching movies on you tube very soon.

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      At the risk of felling another tree or using another KHw of energy could we have a debate. The above comments are trite.

      Sorry for the emission.


    • Ciara says:

      Feel free to air your views on the topic. Personally I don’t think – as has already been pointed out – that spammer will care about their carbon footprint. After all, they don’t really care how much time a day we have to spend sorting through our inboxes for genuine mail, and actively seek out new ways to circumvent filters.

      I wonder – how much energy did it take to produce that report?

    • Rob says:

      Spam is a terrible pain.

    • Simon Kenyon says:

      how many minutes did it take to get that number?

    • Ciara says:

      that’s three weeks worth of spam – it’s now at 2,003.

    • Kynos says:

      About I dunno seven maybe nine years ago I read something that sounded fairly trustworthy to the effect that there were about 100 guys all told blasting the world’s mailbox full of spam and most of them lived in Florida like kings, where free speech is fully protected and taxes are low. Hopefully with a bit more global warming from their emissions Florida’ll fall into the sea.

    • Ger says:


      Three words: Gmail, Gmail, Gmail. No spam what so ever only the stuff you sign up for. It must be the best email account out there seen as all the others seem to have so many spam problems.

    • Martin says:

      install an ‘ironport’ box and you never need worry about SPAM again.

    • Ciara says:

      Ger, I use a Gmail account and I’ve noticed a few seem to be sneaking past that filter now. It might help though if someone wasn’t mistakenly (I assume) using my email address as their own and signing me up to stupid newsletters, giving it to family members, registering me for products etc