EMAIL: A GREENHOUSE GAS EMITTER
British officials working on plans to tackle climate change have alighted on a new threat to the planet: millions of unnecessary emails sent every day, including those that say nothing more than “thanks”. Yes, you have read the right! Emails are turning out to be quite a source of carbon emissions. Well, who could have thought that? Actually, there are already estimations done by some big organizations which conclude that emails are polluting our planet. The emails that are transmitted over the internet are being stored somewhere. They are usually stored over multiple servers around the world. The servers are stored in big data centers which consume crazy amounts of electricity every day. And electricity is still mostly being generated by fossil fuels which results in global carbon emissions (CO2e). So the correlation is straight up, emails cause greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenpeace estimated worldwide data center power consumption for 2012 as about 382 billion kWh. Global data centers used roughly 416 TWh in 2016, nearly 40% more than the entire United Kingdom. A study done by McAfee estimated that a worldwide total of 62 trillion spam emails were sent in 2008 (imagine the numbers in 2021). The average spam email causes emissions equivalent to 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per message. Globally, annual spam energy use totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). That’s equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes, with the same greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion U.S gallons of gasoline. So to save the planet earth, start deleting unwanted emails and spam. You can try to take out time to declutter your mailbox. Empty the Spam folder on a daily basis and unsubscribe to all the notification emails from social media and other unwanted websites so we don't receive marketing and promotion emails. I mean it would just take a few clicks and less than a minute. Imagine what could be achieved if we start clearing those big chunks of data on our Google Drives and other large amounts of data stored on the cloud.
A minor change in the digital interactions which we usually do every day could lead to cutting emissions on a global scale. The idea is to spark a global movement that could ultimately change how we behave digitally.