Spam is timeconsuming, costs lots of money and all those spam messages in your inbox are just annoying. You can try to minimize them by using a spamfilter but still there are some messages that manage to get into your mailbox. But this is old information. But what’s the impact of spam messages on the environment? How about energy use? And for how many GHG emissions are spam messages responsible? Shortly, what’s the carbon footprint of all those spam messages?
This is the question ICF and McAfee asked themselves last year. The reason they started wondering was because they saw some amazing changes when McColo disappeared of the Internet. McColo, the biggest spammer in the world, had been taken offline in November 2008. The first thing ICF and McAfee noticed, was a drop of the worldwide number of spam messages by an average of 50%. When McColo came back online a few days later, spam messages peaked again. Secondly they saw a great reduction of electricity use. So they decided to further investigate the relationship between spam and energy use.
They decided to take a look at diffent phases in the life cycle of a spam message and to check how many energy was used during each phase. They looked at different phases; from harvesting e-mail addresses, actually sending the messages, through receiving the message and viewing and deleting it and filtering it and searching for false positives.
Their study releaved an average CO2 emission of 0,3 gr per spam message. That seems very little but it isn’t when you consider the annual amount of sent spam messages. In 2008, 62 trillion spam messages were sent worldwide. The total CO2 emission of all those messages is the same as the annual emission of 3.1 million cars. Most energy is lost during the last 2 phases (viewing and deleting and filtering and looking for false positives). Both phases are responsible for 80% of the total spam related energy use. Viewing and deleting of spam alone is already responsible for 18 billion KWh or 52% of spam related energy use.
The ultimate solution to get rid of spam would be to take all spammers offline. This would cause an enormous of energy use which could already be seen when McColo was taken offline. However up until now, that’s a utopia.
An other possible solution to reduce the energy use would be to protect every mailbox with a solid spam filter. McAfee and ICF calculated that when this would happen, the total of energy lost on spam every year would reduce by 75%. This is the same as taking 2.1 million cars of the road.
Spam filters also seem a great solution for entreprises. The results demonstrate that a medium size business uses approximately 50.000 KWh per year. 10.000 KWh is lost on spam. The CO2 emission would also reduce dramatically by the use of good spam filters. McAfee and ICF concluded that one single employer is responsible for 131kg of Co2 emission each year. 22% of this emission is caused by spam. Finally everbody would save lots of time if spam wouldn’t exist anymore. The study revealed that each year 104 billion work hours are spent on reading and deleting spam.
bNamed is very well aware if the importance of a good spam filter to manage the e-mail traffic. Therefore, we offer the possibility to set up a spam filter by each domain name.