What's the carbon footprint of spam? ... (Like I care)

Carbon footprint

It's official: Carbon-footprint mania has flown past "getting to be a bit much" and landed smack in the middle of a cow patty (produced, of course, by one of those inscrutably oblivious bovine gas bags).

McAfee this morning has released a 12-page report on the subject, which, had I sacrificed a tree branch to convert from its .pdf format wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on:

In McAfee's "Carbon Footprint of Spam" study released today, climate-change researchers ICF and spam experts calculated globally the annual energy used to transmit, process and filter spam totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 33 terawatt hours (TWh). That's equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion gallons of gasoline.

"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," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of product development and McAfee Avert Labs. "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."

Need I mention that McAfee sells spam filtering technology? Didn't think so.

There's nothing wrong with calculating the carbon footprint of spam, of course, should you have a term paper due and/or be financially motivated. It just strikes me as reminiscent of those insipid lost-productivity studies that blame the global recession on March Madness office pools.

Everybody's got to make a buck.

But I've been writing about spam for going on 13 years now without ever once considering its carbon footprint. I've clear-cut forests chronicling the financial costs of junk e-mail to service providers and IT departments, as well as considering an endless parade of purported remedies both technical and legal.

Yet the spam it shows no respect for my efforts. ... Perhaps all that has been missing has been a proper appreciation for what it all means to global warming. And perhaps monkeys will fly out of my inbox.

Please don't misinterpret this rant: When it comes to environmental sensitivities, I like to consider myself a relatively responsible Earthling. I recycle, drive a gas-sipper, vote for green-friendly Democrats over planet-pillaging Republicans, chase the kids around the house turning off even our new compact fluorescent light bulbs ... and, I'm giving serious if somewhat sporadic thought to buying a few of those canvas shopping bags.

But I'm just not ready to translate every human endeavor into an environmental referendum.

I mean where does it end?

We got the kids a Wii for Christmas without once considering how many hours of "LEGO Star Wars the Complete Saga" they could play without jeopardizing future generations.

Each new iteration of the iPhone and its ilk brings ever closer the day when we're all packing mini-mainframes. Think of the planet, people.

Twitter must have the carbon footprint of Sasquatch.

Texting? OMG w'r SOL.

The other morning I heard a Boston TV news reader actually say: "We all spend a lot of time thinking about our carbon footprints ..."

Huh? I spend more time walking on water.

But I wanted to put my footprint on her backside. Enough already.

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