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Spam Mails Threatening Global Environment, Says McAfee

According to anti-virus company McAfee, which commissioned a research report, spam is not only a nuisance for computer users through wastage of time and resources, it is also blameworthy for suffocating the environment with the toxic carbon-dioxide gas that is largely responsible for the rise in global temperature.

Reports McAfee that over 80% of all e-mail messages around the world are spam. Moreover, by sending and receiving junk e-mails electricity of about 33 Billion Kilowatt-Hours is eaten up every year that can be appropriately equated to the electricity consumption of nearly 2.1 Million homes in the U.S.

The company further computed that during 2008, 62 Trillion spam mails were distributed worldwide. Consequently, this produced greenhouse gases from the electricity provided for generating, transmitting and subsequently erasing the undesirable spam traffic, which was equivalent to the gas emissions from 3.1 Million motor cars.

Says director of security research and communications, Dave Marcus, at McAfee Avert Labs that viewing the issue from the perspective of a single user, one would find that only 0.3 Grams of carbon-dioxide is emitted for each spam mail. PCWorld published this on April 15, 2009. But, added Marcus, expanding the calculation to the bigger numbers, the damage appears quite substantial.

However, according to some security researchers, McAfee's report does not give a computation for the energy that a computer or server uses every day, or for the energy that other applications consume. Without these figures, numbers for energy consumption by spam is difficult to put into context as well as to acknowledge the comprehensive importance, they claimed.

Furthermore, the report does not provide the details of the assumptions and methodology that the company employed to compute the figures. For instance, it fails to state what researchers want PCs to do if they should not be reading spam and filtering the junk e-mails, or in what alternative ways should this electricity be utilized.

Meanwhile, according to McAfee, anti-virus vendors have long been fighting spam, however, now they should try to give some attention to the discussions including the environmental problem, instead of just considering the disturbance spam causes to users through its connections with malware and online crimes.

Related article: Spam Scam Bags a Scottish Connection

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