Spam’s Hefty Carbon Footprint Revealed by McAfee

Internet security experts have recently revealed the detrimental environmental impact of spam in a hard-hitting new study.

McAfee’s Carbon Footprint of Spam report said that the process of producing, storing, sending and filtering spam swallows up a massive 33 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) across the globe every year – akin to the total amount of electricity used every year in some 2.4 million homes and the same level of CO2 emissions as 3.1 million cars.

The report, compiled by researchers at security firm McAfee, concluded that spam emails pose a genuine environmental threat, with substantial contributions to the global level of carbon emissions.

The study argued that used properly, spam filtering can save a global total of 135 TWh of electricity every year – the same as taking 13 million cars off the road.

McAfee Avert Labs senior vice-president Jeff Green commented: “As the world faces the growing problem of climate change, this study highlights that spam has an immense financial, personal and environmental impact on businesses and individuals. Stopping spam at its source, as well investing in state-of-the-art spam filtering technology, will save time and money, and will pay dividends to the planet by reducing carbon emissions as well”.

Surprisingly, the study found that the level of energy consumed by spam was not highest in the developed nations of the world. The US, Britain, Canada, China, Brazil and India all consumed similar levels of electricity, while France, Germany, Australia and Mexico used 10 per cent less. Spain used the smallest amount of energy for spam – both for spam emails received and for the smallest amount of energy use per email user.

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