2008 spam was 62 trillion messages: McAfee

Spam email a growing carbon footprint issue

The global energy bill required to transmit, process and filter spam e-mail in 2008 totaled some 33 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), according to a new report commissioned by security software vendor McAfee and carried out by ICF International.

According to the Carbon Footprint of Spam report, which looks at the global energy expended to create, store, view and filter spam across 11 countries, including Australia, the estimated worldwide total of 62 trillion spam emails sent in 2008 had some pretty serious environmental consequences.

Calculating that the average green house gas (GHG) emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide, the report finds that the same 62 trillion spam e-mails had the equivalent carbon dioxide output of a car driven around the Earth 1.6 million times.

Putting the 33 billion kWhs of power used by the 62 trillion spam e-mails in context, the report said the energy total was approximately equivalent to four gigawatts of baseload power generation or the power provided by four large new coal power plants.

“Granted, ICF associates the average legitimate email with almost four grams of CO2,” the report said. “However, spam e-mail accounts for just over one-third of the total emissions related to business and personal email globally because about 80 per cent of all e-mail messages are spam messages.”

Breaking down the percentage of GHG emissions per spam message, the report found that the act of viewing spam accounted for some 52 per cent of GHG emissions per message. False positives accounted for 27 per cent and Spam filtering for 16 per cent, followed by the Internet at 2 per cent.

Breaking down spam energy use by country, the report notes that countries with greater Internet connectivity and users, such as the United States and India, tend to have proportionately higher emissions per email users.

In spam energy use by country, Australia ranks fifth highest in the 11 countries surveyed for the reports, at circa 15 kWh per year per e-mail user.

This compares with the US in first place with circa 22 kWh per year per e-mail user followed by Canada, Brazil and Mexico. Australia leads over China, India, UK, France, Germany and Spain.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags emailspamcarbon footprintmcafee

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Lohman

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Scan at 1 Photo per second!

Quickly organise your entire photographic history. Automatically color correct and restore poor condition and even faded photos. And, most importantly easily share your memories with friends and family using your favourite social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, and more.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?