Climate Craziness of the Week: Save the planet, combine your emails into longer messages

From Warren Meyer at climate-skeptic.com From the Thin Green Line, a reliable source for any absurd science that supports environmental alarmism:

Sending and receiving email makes up a full percent of a relatively green person’s annual carbon emissions, the equivalent of driving 200 miles.

Dealing with spam, however, accounts for more than a fifth of the average account holder’s electricity use. Spam makes up a shocking 80 percent of all emails sent, but most people get rid of them as fast as you can say “delete.”

So how does email stack up to snail mail? The per-message carbon cost of email is just 1/60th of the old-fashioned letter’s. But think about it — you probably send at least 60 times as many emails a year than you ever did letters.

One way to go greener then is to avoid sending a bunch of short emails and instead build a longer message before you send it.

This is simply hilarious, and reminds me of the things the engineers would fool the pointy-haired boss with in Dilbert.  Here was my response:

This is exactly the kind of garbage analysis that is making the environmental movement a laughing stock.

In computing the carbon footprint of email, the vast majority of the energy in the study was taking the amount of energy used by a PC during email use (ie checking, deleting, sending, organizing) and dividing it by the number of emails sent or processed. The number of emails is virtually irrelevant — it is the time spent on the computer that matters. So futzing around trying to craft one longer email from many shorter emails does nothing, and probably consumers more energy if it takes longer to write than the five short emails.

This is exactly the kind of peril that results from a) reacting to the press release of a study without understanding its methodology (or the underlying science) and b) focusing improvement efforts on the wrong metrics.

The way to save power is to use your computer less, and to shut it down when not in use rather than leaving it on standby.

If one wants to argue that the energy is from actually firing the bits over the web, this is absurd. Even if this had a measurable energy impact, given the very few bytes in an email, reducing your web surfing by one page a day would keep more bytes from moving than completely giving up email.

By the way, the suggestion for an email charge in the linked article is one I have made for years, though the amount is too high. A charge of even 1/100 cent per email would cost each of us about a penny per day but would cost a 10 million mail spammer $1000, probably higher than his or her expected yield from the spam.

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115 thoughts on “Climate Craziness of the Week: Save the planet, combine your emails into longer messages

  1. This shows that the greens are trying to control and tax just about every aspect of your life by comparing how much CO2 everything costs.

  2. I guess it just doesn’t sound sufficiently alarmist enough to say “Sending and receiving email makes up a full percent of a relatively green person’s annual [carbon dioxide] emissions, the equivalent of driving 200 miles…. The per-message [carbon dioxide] cost of email is just 1/60th of the old-fashioned letter’s.”
    It has been a very useful propaganda tool for doomers and alarmists to conflate”carbon” and “carbon dioxide,” since the former elicits the image of dirty, black soot, while the latter is simply a harmless, colorless, and odorless trace gas.

  3. This is hilarious. Thanks!
    Also, who would get the money from the email cost. A spammer probably has his own email service (as opposed to using gmail or some other service), so the profit will have to go somewhere else. Then there is the whole organizing it and having to punch in your credit card number, or having credit card numbers freely shared among email service providers or whoever gets the 1/100th of a penny. All and all it seems like too much work.

  4. In the provincial UESR/PDRofEU island state, the UK, we have a technical expression for this kind of scientific study. We call it “A load of bollocks!” After all they do admit to this being a “best guess”! Of course this can be refined in more detail by the addition of the word “complete” inserted between the letter “A” & the word “load”. This can be refined further still by the insertion of another word, that being “old”, between the words “of”, & “bollocks”! Thus creating greater emphasis in the phrase indicating one’s contempt for such scientific studies! Of course, one can simply reduce this to a more succinct expression, if one was so disposed, by using just the one word, “Bollocks”! This is such a useful expression that it can be used in all sorts of social situations, for instance when listening to a AGW politician explain his/her views on life, the universe, everything, & global warming, & how he/she will make a difference to our everyday lives if we vote for them, knowing how their honesty, integrity, trustworthyness, dilligence, knowledge & intelligence, will shine through!
    WAGTD!

  5. An anti-virus company claims you need their product to make you greener. A cosmetics company claims you need their expensive cream to ward off the signs of ageing. A health food store claims their products will make you healthier. It is the same old popular fantasy shopping that we get in a world full of abundance and prosperity. I’ll worry about the environment when people are too poor to buy stuff.

  6. A more sensible way to reduce consumption would be to remind people not to toss out their unneeded print-outs, but to put them face down in a stack somewhere until there are 50 or so and then put them into the printer when it runs out of paper, printing on the blank side. It also saves a bit of money, because paper costs a penny a sheet.
    Another sensible way to save paper would be to encourage websites to employ techniques that truncate immaterial text (like boilerplate footers) when the Print button is pressed. (I use Firefox’s Readability plug-in to achieve this effect.)

  7. Oh! Anthony: charges for e-mails – you know not what you do. Perhaps it is because you live in the USA and you just have no idea how innovative European politicians are when it comes to ways in which to sneak a tax on tax, on tax on everything.
    We have VAT over here, a variable percentage end-user tax on everything and then other fixed, variable amount Excise and Green/Environment/recycle taxes. Your 1/100 cent e-mail charge would cost considerably more once our grubbing politicians got their hands on it.
    Then you will have given them ideas and who knows what next – a “modest” charge per web page viewed, so it can be taxed.
    UK has introduced a special phone line tax to pay for internet connexions for “the poor” who are disadvantaged without them. (I of course agree every workhouse should be on the Internet.)
    So if not for us over here, think of the USA as His Oneness is eager to tread in the Socialist footsteps of his Euro counterparts.

  8. Indeed. Even if you did suggest that the bulk of the ‘carbon’ usage of email was in the transmission, sending separate ones instead of one long one would add a tiny amount extra. You use up just as much bandwidth sending 10 photos by email separately as sending one email with 10 photos. The headers on an email are a fraction of the total size. That’s like saying you should merge all your Word documents together into one big file to save on disk space.
    Still, the more crazy stuff like this that gets out there, the sooner the whole thing gets laughed at.

  9. The e-mail charge seems sensible at first sight – but ever heard of thin end of the wedge? How quickly would prices go up and what other aspects of internet use would start to incur additional charges (especially if governments could get their hands on some or all of the charges and could blame it on global warming/biodiversity issues – e.g. are e-mails a threat to carrier pigeons?)?

  10. we can all do our part to reduce co2 if we d just eliminate the use of capital letters and punctuation in our emails right

  11. Think i’ll save this one up for Friday to send around my departemnt (Large IT Dept.), this should have the boy’s and girl’s in my office rolling around on the floor.
    Makes you laugh, we’ve just had to change our welcome message when you logon to one form the carbon trust informing us that we must switch off all equipment when not in use, which is great for security as most of our up dates are run over night which we now can’t do as there switched off at the wall, which now means we are not up to date with our IT security just because of a few atoms of C and O, brilliant.

  12. Spam is often sent from hacked PCs that have been turned into “spambots.” Any per email tax would be levied on the unsuspecting PC owner, not the spamers. Spammers wouldn’t care if the tax were $1 per email, they’re not going to pay it.

  13. I use email about 2 times a year. At 1/100th a penny per email, would I mail in my penny to some central world email tax authority, then be good for perhaps the rest of my emailing life, the next 50 years? Seems to be a great make work project for bureaucrats.

  14. If you want to reduce email energy use, make it illegal for anyone over 70 to forward all the crap that they do to each other, over and over again.

  15. Dealing with spam, however, accounts for more than a fifth of the average account holder’s electricity use.
    A fifth? That certainly seems excessive. Spam filters have gotten good enough I rarely get any bona fide spam to the client (in any of my dozen or so accounts), and false positives have not been a problem for some time.

  16. Okay, I have to step in here.
    Spammers don’t send email from their own computers anymore, that makes it too easy to stop them and prosecute them. Instead, they infect other computers with spambots, as they are called, which send out spam on command. The command server is also probably an infected computer. The current email system was designed when people didn’t think about possible abuse with the system. The information in spam is spoofed so you don’t know who it is really coming from. The only way to stop spam is for people to stop responding to it or mandate an entirely [??] way of sending email. It still exists because it works. It is impossible to charge for email using the current system.

  17. I think I will save trees today by leaving my computer running to keep my house warm. Seems the kind of logic we see nowadays.

  18. Re: Adam

    A spammer probably has his own email service (as opposed to using gmail or some other service)

    Spammers use other peoples email service via either compromised PCs or compromised/open email servers. If they used their own then it would simply end up on a blacklist and other email servers would refuse to accept mail from it.
    Charging people for sending email might seem like a good idea to reduce spam but it might actually have the opposite effect. A major ISP that I worked for had to invest heavily in anti-spam measures and it wouldn’t be unusual for them to handle 25 million or more emails in a day (most of them spam). At 1/100 cent per email this would represent an income of $250,000. There would therefore be no incentive for the ISP to identify and prevent spam from a customers compromised PC as this would reduce their income. Even if 90% of the compromised customers complained and got a refund this would still mean they had a revenue stream from the other 10%. The ISP would then have a choice: Invest in anti-spam measures and reduce a revenue stream or don’t invest in anti-spam and maintain/increase a revenue stream.

  19. Talking of emails…twenty three day countdown to the anniversary of that momentous “Breaking News’ email story on WUWT. How should we celebrate? Letters to the Editor, bumper car stickers, fireworks, processions? Tip jar, certainly!

  20. Perhaps they can be pursuaded to recycle words by cutting them out of old emails and pasting them into new emails.

  21. So by turning off my computer (which currently runs non-stop) I will reduce my “carbon” footprint? However as I run BOINC all the time, how much carbon footprint am I saving various research projects? Is it enough to compensate for my increase?
    The few extra cycles I use for myself using e-mail must be minimal compared to the good I hope I am doing for basic scientific research.
    Disclaimer: I will not have anything to do with Climate prediction.net!

  22. Isn’t the underlying assumption in this ‘study’ that the computer is not consuming energy when not sending email?
    I think you end up consuming MORE electricity if you turn the computer off when not composing or handling email. The start up cycle on most computers sucks up a lot more energy than one in steady state for similar time periods.
    This is like the ‘studies’ people use to show that electric cars charged via coal or oil power plants use MORE fossil fuels than gas powered cars. Invariably I find in these ‘studies’ that the authors assume the gas appears magically in the tank of the gas powered vehicle and don’t account for the energy/oil necessary to refine, transport, and fuel the gas that sits in the tank.

  23. I’m reminded of the jokes about our Australian Prime Minister of about 30 years ago.
    It was said that the next tax he would introduce would be one based on penis length (more = more).
    This makes me feel much the same way,
    Sigh.

  24. Your post advocates a
    ( ) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante
    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won’t work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)
    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    (x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (x) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    (x) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we’ll be stuck with it
    (x) Users of email will not put up with it
    (x) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (x) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    (x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    (x) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don’t care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else’s career or business
    Specifically, your plan fails to account for
    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (x) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (x) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (x) Asshats
    (x) Jurisdictional problems
    (x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    (x) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (x) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (x) Extreme profitability of spam
    (x) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (x) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    (x) Outlook
    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:
    (x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    (x) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    (x) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    (x) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    (x) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    (x) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don’t want the government reading my email
    (x) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough
    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:
    (x) Sorry dude, but I don’t think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you’re a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I’m going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!

  25. I would have commented on this article, but the damage doing so would wreak on our planet would be irreversible, and I just couldn’t live with that on my conscience.
    D’oh!

  26. The botmasters will be having a right chortle about this. But they might be the ones running the carbon market scam, so.. It all gets so confusing nowadays!

  27. “One way to go greener then is to avoid sending a bunch of short emails and instead build a longer message before you send it.”
    I have followed the links and cannot find that quote. If it actually exits I want to ridicule it. Anyone seen the original source?

  28. Just imagine how many resources you save by sending an email. Less paper, less work for the post office, and eventually a reduction in miles driven and weight carried in mail trucks, mail sorting machines running fewer hours, fewer people in expensive post office buildings with A/C and heat, and …

  29. How about we shut down all of those useless climate models begin run on expensive and energy consuming computer data centers…talk about carbon footprint!! Sheeesh.

  30. More meltdown of the climate change movement.
    Ripley: Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away? — “Aliens”

  31. Spam makes up a shocking 80 percent of all emails sent
    Shocking? These people are sensitive.
    [And spam takes up so much room in the “Trash” box ! Shocking. Just shocking. 8<) Robt ]

  32. For the truly carbophobic, there’s even a book called “How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything.” Of course, the book itself would have a hefty “carbon footprint”, so no self-respecting carbophobe would buy it.

  33. “Thin Green Line”
    Shouldn’t that be Thick Green Line?
    As in “Thick as three bog seats screwed together”?

  34. By the way, the suggestion for an email charge in the linked article is one I have made for years, though the amount is too high. A charge of even 1/100 cent per email would cost each of us about a penny per day but would cost a 10 million mail spammer $1000, probably higher than his or her expected yield from the spam.
    Hence the reason why Spammers and other Cyber-criminals use botnets these days. Like this one http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/27/bredolab_botnet_suspect_cuffed/
    As for saving in the way how you send E-mails, its Climate Foolsday indeed.

  35. Small point – typo. “….and probably consumers more energy if it takes longer…”
    “Consumes”, I think.

  36. I don’t see why I should go to the effort of composing an entire page of useless prose when all I need to get the message across is six little words: bugger off and leave me alone!

  37. On the other hand, it’s gotta cost more to download “1,413 Responses to Tips & Notes to WUWT” than most pieces of spam I get. 🙂
    Can we double the tax on HTML Email senders?

  38. Ridiculous. I’d bet that watching videos on YouTube (or Netflix) has a much higher cost in terms of computing power (and thus consumes far more energy) than reading/sending emails.
    Most (if not all) modern CPUs and operating systems scale back CPU power (and thus energy use) according to demand, and I’m fairly certain that the processing power required to read a hundred emails is far less than the power required to decode and display a 10-minute video stream. Video processing is much more CPU-intensive.
    Not to mention all the resources used by routers, switches, and other internet infrastructure moving all those video packets around the ‘net.
    According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, in 2010, email accounted for 0.23% of all internet traffic, while online video was responsible for at least 28.05% (more than any other category)! This is inevitable, since an email message consumes a small fraction of the resources required to store and transmit even a short, 10-minute video.
    Time to slap Youtube and Netflix with a special ‘carbon tax’ ? 😀

  39. Bruce Cobb says:
    October 27, 2010 at 5:44 am
    > For the truly carbophobic, there’s even a book called “How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything.” Of course, the book itself would have a hefty “carbon footprint”, so no self-respecting carbophobe would buy it.
    OT, but don’t forget, bananas are a good source of potassium (typo – I nearly wrote postasium) and some potassium (K40) is radioactive. As is some of its carbon (C14). Bad stuff, except when visiting anti-nuke rallies.

  40. Big brother salivates when thinking about email. We now have the capability of tracking whether or not email is opened and how long it stays opened on a server. We can track when an email is sent to the bin or saved. And we can require a ping back that it was read. It is only a matter of time before emails can be made to stay on the screen opened till some action is done. Trouble is, we see email as a convenience. Which is exactly why it is being exploited as a control mechanism. We won’t protest.
    It isn’t the carbon we should be worried about here.

  41. Charges for emails have been proposed in the past as a way to curtail spam, either as an ‘e-stamp’ involving cash, or credit system for trusted senders. Spam works for the same reason many .com things work, net economics are semi-broken and costs aren’t equitably distributed. So it’s cheap for spammers to blast out millions of emails in the hope a few suckers respond.
    Elsewhere on the ‘net, there are some potentially ungreen things happening. In the good’ol days of POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) phones didn’t need consumers to plug wall adaptors in. They were powered from the line and exchanges provided the power and batteries to make them ring. So power supplied to the customer device as and when needed. Give or take a couple of mA wetting current, if that was used.
    Early days of the ‘net where dial-on-demand, so modems on and connected when needed. Then along came always on broadband with xDSL or cable modems complete with inefficient wall-wart PSU’s to convert mains to working voltages. Next step is migrating to all-IP networks and VoIP which will make unpowered POTS phones redundant, and also means exchanges need less power kit to serve their distribution networks because their customer’s electricity will be used. That saves telco’s money on their electricity bills. Shifting to optical and especially passive optical distribution also saves power and money.
    Consumers are left stuck with an ever expanding array of inefficient transformers powering gizmos, often without any kind of redundancy, which is especially bad for safety of life services like VoIP. Mobile phone companies have agreed to standardise on PSU’s for mobile phones and I wish other CE makers would follow suit. Then I could get a hopefully more efficient low voltage power strip instead of all the 13A power bars in my office. On the plus side though, they are helping keep my office warm.
    I copied Anthony’s trick of moving all my wall-warts onto switchable power strips though and that does save a reasonable amount of electricity. Also curious if there are any fire investigation studies into overheating, cheap PSU’s as causes of domestic fires.

  42. OT but something exceedingly strange is going on with millions of dollars earmarked for environmental campaigns.
    http://fairquestions.typepad.com/rethink_campaigns/2010/10/the-11-million-dollar-question.html
    Tides acts as a cleaning house so that donors can hide what their funds are specifically earmarked for. I guess with groups like 10:10 putting out children snuff videos, we can expect more of this type of funding against any and every industrial activity.

  43. I have read Warren Meyer’s blogs for a very long time, and he is one of the most ‘common sense’ individuals that you can read.
    He has suggested a small charge for email for years, and once you overcome your initial horror, you realise what a bloody good idea it is. A fraction of a penny for an email, would cost us peanuts per day, but would stop the spammers in their tracks.
    You ought to listen to him on ‘Company DNA’ too. Try this:- http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2005/12/why_its_ok_if_g.html

  44. “This is simply hilarious, and reminds me of the things the engineers would fool the pointy-haired boss with in Dilbert. ”
    One of my favorites was the one where the Boss was trying to reboot his lap top
    an Wally said:”Shake it”-the Laptop being an “Etch-a-sketch”

  45. I think, since the advent of IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc, people are sending fewer and fewer legit emails these days. And if you start taxing email, services such as those will take up the slack when email is discarded. So, those services will need to be taxed too…

  46. Early days of the ‘net where dial-on-demand, so modems on and connected when needed.

    I don’t recall ever turning off my modem(s). And those I troubleshot as a network technician in the late 80s and 90s were always on. They would have to be to receive a call.

  47. So are the climate alarmists going to blogging misrepresentations, lies and scaremongering rubbish now then? It is pumping out those nasty poisonous CO2s that they keep scaring us about.
    Or is this how they are going to prevent the next “climategate” by stopping the alarmist’s opponents from using computers and the internet?

  48. Jeremy says:
    October 27, 2010 at 6:45 am
    OT but …

    Then why did you post it? Your post is no better than spam. Mods, why let these through? They’re supposed to be in the “Tips and Notes” section…

  49. A frequently overlooked other reason for high energy use while surfing on the internet is internet traffic congestion. However there is an easy remedy. Once a day, unplug the transmission line from the router/modem and let it hang down for some 30 minutes to allow for stuck bits and bytes to evacuate. Blow into the transmission line socket and and clean the plug with a lint-free tissue before reconnecting. You will immediately notice the improved transmission rate.

  50. nano pope says:
    October 27, 2010 at 5:07 am
    Thank you. I’ve been trying to figure out how to say that idea is such an idiotic idea without insulting anyone. Sadly, words have failed me. Why is it that people turn to big brother to solve their problems in the form of a tax? TAXATION TOWARDS BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION IS A SELF-DEFEATING PROPOSITION!!
    Further, its easy to speak of spam in generic terms, but as any ISP/net admin will tell you, there is no clear line between e-mail and spam. Some twits actually peruse the ads Walmart sends out while others are annoyed they’re on a mailing list. Further, mass mailing aren’t always shopping ads or gimmicks. For instance, many of us belong to groups whose membership is quite large. When these groups have a conference or other similar event, you’d punish them for letting the membership know?
    Inviting the government further into our lives and forcing ourselves to pay for the intrusion seems, well, idiotic.

  51. Everyone knows that, at bottom, all the emails (and websites, etc.) are composed of 1’s and 0’s. We could save half the energy by only sending 1’s over the Internet — after all, 0’s are nothing anyway.
    😉

  52. “I’m reminded of the jokes about our Australian Prime Minister of about 30 years ago.
    It was said that the next tax he would introduce would be one based on penis length (more = more).”
    Cool, My husband would get a massive rebate!

  53. The comments show the hook to climate change. Anything associated with global warming, climate change or whatever they call it now is only cured by regulating, rationing, monitoring and taxes. My take is, they think, if they pour it on enough we will drown in their swill, become intoxicated and take the whore home to mother.

  54. There are lots of ways to do this. I myself don’t use the lights on my vehicle so that I can save the cost of electricity

  55. vivendi
    October 27, 2010 at 7:10
    A frequently overlooked other reason for high energy use while surfing on the internet is internet traffic congestion. However there is an easy remedy. Once a day, unplug the transmission line from the router/modem and let it hang down for some 30 minutes to allow for stuck bits and bytes to evacuate. Blow into the transmission line socket and and clean the plug with a lint-free tissue before reconnecting. You will immediately notice the improved transmission rate.
    ###
    It is also a good idea to swab the area with alcohol to prevent infection.

  56. This reminds me of Micro$ofts proposal to control access to the Internet to “certified clean” computers. Having created a problem, they now want to get paid to solve it.
    Unfortunately, as has been seen time and time again, trying to solve problems through taxation suffers from the law of unintended consequnces. Like the side effects of taking medicine, the cure is often worse than the disease.
    Governments assume that taxes opperate outside of the laws of supply and demand. Nothing could be further from the truth. Charging for emails will immediately open up a huge business opportunity for companies to develop products to send email via some other format, to divert the tax money from the government. These business will not actually produce anything, they will simply be a by product of the new tax.
    We have this already in everyday life. Armies of people that build nothing, produce nothing, employed simply to divert money that would otherwise go to the government. Over time, as more and more of the economy becomes involed in “tax avoidance”, productivity is lost and living standards can only be maintained by increased taxation, driving even more of the economy into “tax avoidance”.
    As less and less people are employed doing something productive, the only was governments can maintain revenues is to go into debt. Eventually debt servicing becomes impossible, leading to the inevitable collapse of the economy.
    Once the economy collapses, there is a significant reduction in fuel use, along with a significant reduction in CO2 production. Problem solved.

  57. This is just ridiculous. Why does everyone stress so much about Spam? I rarely get any, and I get a lot of email.
    In fact, once my funds from Nigeria arrive, I’m going to just stop reading WUWT, it seems everyone’s gone off the deep end. That should be any day now, apparently the trunk packed with cash and gold is currently on a train. Cross your fingers that it gets past the border!
    And another thing, those online pharmacies are providing a valuable service for people who otherwise are unable to get their ED medication (used, of course, to blend with E medication, so you love everyone, and can). In fact, they are even making meds better. I notice my last few shipments from “Xpress Farmacee” don’t have any bitter taste, they’re sweet and shaped just like Tic-Tac’s. What a nice touch!
    Ahem. Seriously… the only way to “save” anything with a computer is to not use one. Heck, viewing ONE web page probably consumes more resources than even a prolific emailer is likely to consume in a week.
    Of course, the real problem here is that the typical feel-good “greenie” is completely incapable of comprehending numbers and scale, which explains their AGW belief in the first place. How else can you explain why we literally DOUBLE the number of trash collection vehicles and miles driven in order to take a second batch of trash away for “recycling”?

  58. “Dealing with spam, however, accounts for more than a fifth of the average account holder’s electricity use.”
    I call total BS !
    Spam accounts for 20%? More than the refrigerator? If the computer is ON, the incremental power draw due to using an e-mail program (hardly a CPU intensive application!) is nothing, and the portion dealing with spam is even less, and way less than 20% of my electrical bill.
    These greenies know nothing about energy, computers, or technology. A sad commentary on the level of thinking (or what passes for thinking).

  59. Well, one thing that honestly could make a difference is changing the standard Internet MTU when communicating over ethernet from 1500 to something like 9000 but it would have to be a global change to make a difference. That would reduce by 1/4 the number of packets processed by hosts and routers in the path. Load on that equipment is not generated by bits per second, it is generated by packets per second.
    Increasing the standard internet MTU would greatly reduce load on hosts and routers globally and provide a real (albeit small) energy saving. 1500 bytes made sense when ethernet was 10 megabits/sec and routers had only a meg of buffer.
    http://staff.psc.edu/mathis/MTU/

  60. Hmm. Computers? … electricity consumption? … reduction in consumption?
    I’ve got a good idea! Why not switch off THIS one?
    “The Met Office unveiled Britain’s most powerful super computer today, which is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second.
    However, they admitted despite the £30million system being more powerful than 100,000 PCs it could still get the forecast WRONG.
    The IBM computer, which is housed in special halls bigger than two football pitches, requires 1.2 megawatts of energy to run – enough to power a small town. It will provide meteorological information to a team of 400 scientists.”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1185629/Met-office-unveils-UKs-powerful-supercomputer-admits-weather-forecasts-WRONG.html#ixzz13Zc2MTYY

  61. Jeff Alberts says:
    October 27, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Jeremy says:
    October 27, 2010 at 6:45 am
    OT but …
    Then why did you post it? Your post is no better than spam. Mods, why let these through? They’re supposed to be in the “Tips and Notes” section…

    It’s much better than the spam I get, but it does belong in Tips and Notes. I think it’s better. I generally don’t read such things unless they’re in Tips and Notes.

  62. Is there any way that the Amish could be persuaded to accept the green crazies? After a few years training they would probably be quite competent farm hands.

  63. Re: Jeff Alberts says:

    I don’t recall ever turning off my modem(s). And those I troubleshot as a network technician in the late 80s and 90s were always on. They would have to be to receive a call.

    I was thinking more from consumer side. I also have different memories of provider side, and there were energy savings then. We had around 300 modems housed in racks, each with it’s own mains PSU and often needing power cycling to reset them so they’d answer. Those got replaced by modem cards in a cage, then later by Ascend Max or equivalent modem servers, each generation being a bit more power efficient than it’s predecessor. Except when the Max’s overheated.. But then that’s been a challenge on the supply side ever since. Space at a premium, so cram more kit into a rack increasing the power density and cooling challenges.

  64. Pamela Gray says:
    “We now have the capability of tracking whether or not email is opened and how long it stays opened on a server. We can track when an email is sent to the bin or saved. And we can require a ping back that it was read.”
    These can all be defeated or blocked by proper settings in the mail/browser program. For now anyway. I disable all automatic responses.
    “It isn’t the carbon we should be worried about here.”
    Of that, there is no doubt. Someone once said no politician can sleep at night, worrying that they have left one dime untaxed.
    My desktop uses 80 watts, 12 hours a day. 1 kWh. Costs about 7 cents per day. And it helps warm the room. Not as efficient as gas heat, but hardly wasted. I rather doubt the number or size of emails has any effect on this.
    P.T.Barnum made a number of comments about things of this nature …

  65. “The way to save power is to use your computer less, and to shut it down when not in use rather than leaving it on standby.”
    This would be a good solution when the computer is not in use during a LONG period, but not for short periods of no use, because each time the computer is again put on, it had to restart, make checks, etc., and this takes time.

  66. Their logic makes no sense whatsoever. My corporate e-mail server runs 24 hours per day, using around 550 Watts of electricity whether it is processing mail or not. Sending short e-mails or long e-mails or even 30M attachments doesn’t change its energy consumption in any measurable way.
    There are certain times of day when its CPU load (and thus energy consumption) will go up as it indexes files and performs backups, deletes aged SPAM and bad mail folders, and other housekeeping routines. But I doubt these activities add any significant load to its daily consumption.
    If I figure correctly, the more e-mail sent through our server the lower the cost and the lower the energy consumption per e-mail will be. Otherwise the server sits idle using up electricity to run its redundant power supplies, mother board, cooling fans, network controllers, and hard drives.
    Has the economy grown so bad that towns can no longer afford to keep their town fools employed that they now have wasted time to write mindless articles on technical subjects that keep their foolishness finely honed?
    Disclaimer: No electrons were harmed in the transmission of this web comment. However, several billion were inconvenienced to deliver it eventually to your screen.
    Public Service Announcement: Please be kind to electrons – do turn on battery powered devices so as to allow a few electrons to get out and about occasionally.
    Electron fact: While electricity travels at near the speed of light (less the velocity factor of the wire – bumping into impurities and all), A single electron, if it could be traced, actually traverses the wire very slowly – in the order of 0.4 cm per second on a good day, taking roughly four minutes to travel one meter.

  67. One way to go greener then is to avoid sending a bunch of short emails and instead build a longer message before you send it.
    This kind of obsessive-compulsive focus on meaningless minutia is also intended to make the widdle greenie weenies think they are “contributing” to saving the world and thus are being “meaningful”. It keeps them busy doing nothing, including when they compare notes with each other to see who is the most useless “caring” or “sensitive”.

  68. This kind of insane accounting has probably caused deaths in UK hospitals.
    The problem goes like this: some mega-machine costs the hospital $20M, is amortised over 4 years, and can be approx. 3 times a day.
    Therefore, it costs approx $5000 every time it is used.
    That’s too mush to spend on relatively minor ailments, so the machine sits there idle when it could be diagnosing real problems. Simply because some idiot accountant can’t use logic.

  69. Cajoling the greenies to believe that spammers are destroying the planet? Hmm.. that could be a very good thing!

  70. If I hold my breath while writing this post does that make a positive CO2 change relative to the energy required to post it?

  71. Like Severian and Douglas DC, I immediately thought of Dilbert. I recall one where the PHB urges engineers to save electricity by not using bold-faced fonts in emails.

  72. Email energy use will be swamped by electric car use. Imagine if 200 million cars were to be plugged in everyday to recharge. Perhaps I should look into purchasing a whole bunch of electric company stocks.

  73. Every day I marvel at the change. Not the climate change but the intelligence/economic change. In my day a person with this chap’s level of intelligence would have been hard pushed to get a job as a street sweeper. How the devil do such people survive?

  74. ‘Sending and receiving email makes up a full percent of a relatively green person’s annual carbon emissions, the equivalent of driving 200 miles.’
    Problem: you writing emails
    Problem: a full percent of your molecular carbon emissions
    Problem: you driving 200 miles
    Problem: a “shocking” 80% of more than a fifth of one percent of your average electricity use
    Problem: you receiving spam which you delete immediately
    Problem: your molecular emissions as you send emails, agian restated
    Problem: you write more emails than you ever did letters– “probably 60 times more emails” —“Think about it”!
    Carbon regulation is not only unreasonable on its face, but this study shows that there is no reasonable stopping point to its application.
    Especially since they can recount and/or double-state the problem (in terms of miles driving [200]and letters mailed [60]) when analyzing the molecular harm to the planet caused by your personnal electronic communications!

  75. Youse is all crazy, taxing anything. That’s the camel under the nose of the tent.
    Bill Marsh says: October 27, 2010 at 4:59 am
    Isn’t the underlying assumption in this ‘study’ that the computer is not consuming energy when not sending email?
    I think you end up consuming MORE electricity if you turn the computer off when not composing or handling email. The start up cycle on most computers sucks up a lot more energy than one in steady state for similar time periods.

    Research conducted. 3.2Ghz AMD dual-core, 4GB, 3HDD
    measured on a P3 Kill A Watt load meter, $16.99 at New Egg.
    Startup load, homogenized data:
    52 watts for 3 seconds
    104 watts for 9 seconds
    93 watts continuous thereafter.
    So the break-even point is a couple seconds of on-but-not-being-used time. This doesn’t count the monitor, 36 watts for mine, or the couple watts used to keep a continuous 5v going to the computer power switch, or the inconvenience of waiting for a boot-up, or the 100% thermal efficiency during the winter.
    Always good to put some numbers in to give a little perspective.
    Kill A Watt

  76. Excerpt:
    ———–
    By the way, the suggestion for an email charge in the linked article is one I have made for years, though the amount is too high. A charge of even 1/100 cent per email would cost each of us about a penny per day but would cost a 10 million mail spammer $1000, probably higher than his or her expected yield from the spam.
    ———–
    But such a scheme is egalitarian, and not all of us have sufficient wherewithal.
    .
    Your scheme would result in the silencing of voices, many possessing of far less wealth than yourself.
    .
    Soon, the scheme would INFLATE to the point of COMPLETE exclusion of all but the most wealthy and/or connected.
    .
    Shades of ClimateGate …
    .
    And anyway: WHOM would obtain the benefit of the charge? That is, WHERE would that collected charge go? Que bono? Who benefits …
    .
    Your idea plays =DIRECTLY= into the hands of the warmist.

  77. Intresting, perhaps there should be taxes levied on everything?
    Perhaps if the internet was forced into such a problem we might see the ‘internet black market’. What a great opertunity! You may see green, hippy, losers who happen to be smoking a joint, who are ‘fully’ keeping in the spirit of ‘enviormentalism’, taking a quick ‘sneak mail’. While the rest of the population is forced to use the ‘censor bot 1000’, a ‘fully atonomus ai’ who persistently spams your inbox about your 1 cm cubed emitions due to the sending of 100341 emails in your life. Hatemail? hmm How about ‘Artifical’ hatemail?

  78. “…..Save the planet, combine your emails into longer messages”
    I quote the immortal words of Rhett Butler: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a D*M!”
    Bob

  79. A while ago I ran across another such greenie that was also dumber than a bag of hammers:
    He used very small fonts for all his documents. When asked, he said it was to save hard-disk space. His idea was that smaller font documents require less hard disk space. Therefore the hard-disk then will spin up less often and thus lower his CO2 footprint. I told him to get a felt pen and write directly on his screen. Even lower CO2 footprint because the computer does not even have to be on, and who wants to see anything somebody that stupid writes anyway.

  80. Btw Anthony, you should format your copypasta as a quote so people don’t think you are the one suggesting the stupid e-mail tax.

  81. Ric Werme says:
    October 27, 2010 at 8:34 am
    It’s much better than the spam I get, but it does belong in Tips and Notes. I think it’s better. I generally don’t read such things unless they’re in Tips and Notes.

    Sorry if I sounded harsh, but it just irks me when someone starts their comment “OT, but…” But nothing. Don’t post it if it’s OT. Simple.

  82. Atomic Hairdryer says:
    October 27, 2010 at 8:37 am
    I was thinking more from consumer side. I also have different memories of provider side, and there were energy savings then. We had around 300 modems housed in racks, each with it’s own mains PSU and often needing power cycling to reset them so they’d answer. Those got replaced by modem cards in a cage, then later by Ascend Max or equivalent modem servers, each generation being a bit more power efficient than it’s predecessor. Except when the Max’s overheated.. But then that’s been a challenge on the supply side ever since. Space at a premium, so cram more kit into a rack increasing the power density and cooling challenges.

    I was speaking about both sides 😉 I don’t remember the brand names of the modems we used at Telenet in the late 80s. Oh, I remember, Racal Vadic, for the 1200baud, don’t remember the 2400 brand. Then we moved to V.29 and V.32 modems, don’t remember the brands on those either, lol. But the latter were card racks I believe (I never saw them, only manipulated them remotely.)

  83. I can think of a long list of minutia to change in order to lower my footprint.
    1. Recycle finger and toenail clippings.
    2. Used toilet paper could be put back on the role backwards so you could use the other side.
    3. Buy only anklets, not knee socks, and buttfloss undies instead of grannywear.
    4. Wear miniskirts at all times, not knee length or maxi dresses.
    5. When swatting flies, always try for two at a time.
    6. Teach your dog to eat cat poop instead of putting it in the landfill (oh, wait, he already does).
    7. Teach your cat to eat dog poop.
    8. (note to self: do not allow cat or dog to lick your face)
    9. When you talk, say only half of what you planned to say.
    10. My boyfriend made me say that last one.

  84. I didn’t even need to read this to tell you it is complete crap. Would make no difference how many emails you send or not send, the cost is still the same. A computer systems uses no more, no less, electricity whether it is sending emails or sitting idle.
    This is complete garbage .. total hogwash .. presented by someone that knows not the first thing about technology.

  85. Many people appear to (intentionally?) miss the forest for the tree when talking about CO2 reduction by energy saving.
    When you cut electricity consumption by 10%, that may reduce CO2 emission by roughly 250 kg (by Japanese standard) at the utility IF AND ONLY IF the generator (boiler) senses load lowering by you. Electricity cut in 1000 homes of Tokyo (4.5 million homes in total) would never be sensed at the generator, and hence NO CO2 REDUCTION nationwide.
    Even when many many homes cut electricity and the corresponding amount of CO2 is reduced at the generator, you still cannot count on CO2 reduction nationwide. By the above-mentioned energy cut you will save ca. 10,000 Yen (USD 120) per year. If you buy gasoline with this 10,000 Yen, that soon emits 250-kg CO2. Hence practically no change in CO2 emission. If you buy some article other than gasoline with the 10,000 Yen, a company produces that article by consuming energy at their factory, thus emitting roughly equivalent amount of CO2.
    The upshot is that you can barely reduce nationwide CO2 emission by energy saving.
    The best (and only) way to CO2 reduction is to burn the banknote equivalent to the energy saved. For instance, burning a 10,000-Yen banknote produces only 1.2 gram of CO2!

  86. Addendum to my previous post:
    When the utility does not sense your electiricity cut, the saved money induces CO2 emission in various ways, so here you see a net CO2 emission INCREASE by energy saving.

  87. Gary Mount says:
    October 27, 2010 at 4:22 am
    I use email about 2 times a year. At 1/100th a penny per email, would I mail in my penny to some central world email tax authority, then be good for perhaps the rest of my emailing life, the next 50 years? Seems to be a great make work project for bureaucrats.
    They are one step ahead of you, the same system that is used for Melbourne Water will apply. Email service charge of $20.00 plus 1/00th cent per email (Minimum 250 emails) plus carbon disposal tax.

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