Without spam e-mail, there could be no “Who got the funniest spam today?” (I won today with “You can look fancy even if you are a simple taxi driver.”) But is spam destroying the Earth?
It turns out that spam has a heck of a carbon footprint. According to a recently released study producing the energy that was required to delete spam and search for actual e-mail that mistakenly ended up in junk e-mail folders during 2008 created greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion gallons of gas.
That’s pretty staggering, but what about another type of SPAM—the processed meat product from Hormel? Fact: Producing eight ounces of pork is the greenhouse-gas equivalent of driving a standard car 2.52 miles. Let’s assume that, after you take all the water, salt, and et cetera out of a 12-ounce can of SPAM, there are 10 or 11 ounces of actual pork. So, producing a can of SPAM is the equivalent of driving more than 3 miles. Deleting one piece of e-mail spam, on the other hand, is the equivalent of driving 3 feet.
So, yes, a can of SPAM has a carbon footprint that is more than 5,000 times larger than that of a piece of spam e-mail.
On a related note, according to Live Earth, going vegetarian is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint”—certainly more effective than installing a spam filter, anyway.
Written by Amanda Schinke