According to a recent research undertaken by the security firm McAfee, Spam emails are responsible for consuming up to 33 billion hours (kWh) of power in a year which incidentally is enough to power nearly 2.4 million homes.
The study essentially involved a detailed analysis of total energy that was used to create, view and filter spam emails and it covered 11 countries including the likes of Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan along with India, Mexico, United States and the United Kingdom
One of the interesting findings of the study was the amount of energy end users spend in deleting spam messages apparently contributed close to 80 percent of energy consumed by spam emails.
Elaborating on the acuteness of the problem, Jeff Green, senior vice president of product development at McAfee mentioned "Spam has an immense financial, personal and environmental impact on businesses and individuals. Stopping spam at its source, as well investing in filtering technology, will save time and money, and will pay dividends to the planet by reducing carbon emissions as well."
Incidentally the study also found out that on an average, a single spam message is responsible for emission of nearly 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide and suggested that spam filtering software can go long way in protecting the environment.
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It would be interesting to find out how the guys managed to get the 0.3 grams of CO2 emitted per spam (or per email). Given that by some accounts, the overwhelming majority of the emails we received can be classified as SPAM (Microsoft quotes 97 percent), that's a hell lot of power being wasted. However, the cost of actually going through the emails that have not been filtered could be much higher.