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The Ecological Impact of Spam

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the hello-sir-madam dept.

Spam 176

krou writes "A new study entitled 'The Carbon Footprint of Spam' (PDF) published by ICF International and commissioned by McAfee claims that spam uses around 33 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually, which is approximately enough to power 2.4 million US homes (or roughly 3.1 million cars) for a year. They calculated that the average CO2 emission for a spam email is around 0.3 grams. Interestingly, the majority of energy usage (around 80%) comes from users viewing and deleting spam, and searching for legitimate emails within spam filters. They also claim that 'An individual company can find that one fifth of the energy budget of its email system is wasted on spam.' One of the report's authors, Richi Jennings, writes on his blog that 'spam filtering actually saves an incredible amount of energy.' He continues, 'Imagine if every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter. We could save about 75% of the spam energy used today — 25 TWh per year; that's like taking 2.3 million cars off the road.""

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lol (0)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586901)

What's the carbon footprint of my toilet wastes? I think knowing that would be more beneficial for calculating arbitrary numbers for the waste of spam

MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586903)

Imagine if every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter. We could save about 75% of the spam energy used today â" 25 TWh per year; that's like taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

My God! That is fantastic! If only we had the option to purchase a "state-of-the-art spam filter!" Wait, I know! McAfee, the people who sponsored and paid for this research, have SpamKiller [mcafee.com] ! It's perfect.

Although I can't access the PDF (download hangs), could you please direct me to the part of the 'research' where you analyze the amount of energy used to perform complex computational functions on tokens from e-mails against a database. And prove that this is less than the energy wasted flipping though e-mails and deleting spam? I mean, the network usage is going to be the same so ... that would have to be some pretty impressive and efficient Bayesian filtering with an amazing database technology to drop below viewing and deleting e-mails.

And maybe you could factor in the cost and subscription to said state-of-the-art spam filter?

What? You didn't include that analysis in your research? It sounds like a very crucial part of convincing me to acquire a state-of-the-art spam filter. You missed that part?

You don't say.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (3, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587013)

I think the electricity wasted on your monitor by bringing spam up.. Maybe a few seconds max. That will FAR overshadow any filtering techniques occurring in your processor.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (2, Informative)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587137)

Your monitor was most likely going to be running anyway so there is no real power wasted.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (2, Informative)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587271)

Yes, but the footprint will not be anymore associated to spam but to an other activity probably more productive like reading Slashdot :D

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (1)

Destoo (530123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588387)

"probably" being the key word here.
Of course, that was bound to happen. 2009 is green.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587071)

There must be massive amounts of energy and bandwidth wasted just punting the stuff around the world, nevermind viewing it once it reaches its destination. The earlier spam is caught and filtered the better.. it's such a waste. We get our mail filtered by MessageLabs before it ever hits our own servers, I reckon we probably get our money's worth quite easily via the bandwidth we're saving. It would still be nice just to wipe it out at the source of course.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (4, Funny)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587493)

It would still be nice just to wipe it out at the source of course.

So you advocate... nuking it from orbit?

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (3, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587847)

"So you advocate... nuking it from orbit?"

I'm afraid so, it's the only way to be sure.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (2, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587961)

I will never let you onto B.O.M.B. 001.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587089)

While I agree that it's probably a self-serving study with questionable numbers, they're not wrong in saying that spam wastes energy. Think about the billions of spam emails flying around. Each computer wastes a little bit of power sending and receiving each message.

Maybe the problem isn't as big as they say, but I would not be at all surprised if spam has a significant impact on the environment.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587229)

I'm pretty sure you can pass a flag to the Maxwell daemon when you run it to have it filter spam. This has an added benefit of using negative energy while filtering.

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587477)

I got a better idea: Just put a state of the art spam filter on the spammers outbox!

Back of the Envelope (3, Insightful)

wsanders (114993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587487)

Don't let anti-corporate hysteria blind you from looking objectively at this problem. Well, if spam did not exist I would not need a state of the art spam filter. That would be 2U less rack space and about 200W less power I would need to use in my data center. Really, just multiply all the instances of dedicated spam filters, proprietary or otherwise, and it's pretty easy to come up with a number. Plus, I'll bet 5% of Google's resources are dedicated to spam blocking and at least 5% of any ISP's resources are dedicated to transporting it. That's a big number.

Of course, McAfee would not exist either. Lots of people would be unemployed, and maybe they could find a cure for world hunger or something else useful instead.

Re:Back of the Envelope (4, Insightful)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587563)

We could treat spammers like some middle eastern countries treat thieves.

CUT OFF THEIR HANDS!

Without hands, they can't type out spam messages!

Re:Back of the Envelope (1)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587981)

i hacve no hsnds and i tpe my postrs withmty nose, you ionsenmsitve cld!

Re:MacAfee Finds Way to Market Product as Green! (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588521)

And how about the carbon frakking footprint of all of the physical junkmail and newspaper inserts from retailers like Best Buy which contains ads for (among other things) PC security suites? I'm pretty sure that cutting down a tree, making paper, printing an ad, and then delivering it to my house emits just a tad more carbon than me deleting an email. Oh, sweet irony... delicious!

What, a spam filter, like the one sold by McAfee? (2, Insightful)

phil-trick (24853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586913)

Well, of course it uses energy.

But you could also argue the fact that nearly as much energy was wasted conducting the survey and then it getting posted to /., then having all those people read it.

Sounds like an MS study on linux to me...

Re:What, a spam filter, like the one sold by McAfe (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587393)

And don't forget the number of man-hours wasted on anti-spam measures and manual spam handling.

Re:What, a spam filter, like the one sold by McAfe (1)

igny (716218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588009)

And do not forget all the greenhouse emissions from people farting while reading the spam!

So spam is bad then? (3, Funny)

HipToday (883113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586915)

Are you telling me spam has negative effects?

Re:So spam is bad then? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588619)

I only get spam lite.

SMTP sucks (4, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586929)

I don't care what anybody else says, we need a new protocol for messaging. It could combine the best parts of email with the best parts of social networking/IM/SMS and surpass them all. We need a network where there is some way to ascertain the origin of any email/account. We need automatic encryption. We can still keep SMTP around, there's no need to kill it (so we can have anonymous networks), but we need something else now. I know, I know, easier said than done and put your money where your mouth is, but for my part, I am trying to use email less and less, while switching to Facebook/Twitter/SMS to get in touch with people.

Re:SMTP sucks (1, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587051)

Your idea of progress is a couple of (fairly spam heavy) proprietary services, and a (fairly spam heavy) $.1 a piece, stuck-in-the-pre-IP-dark-ages, service you have to buy from the phone company?

Re:SMTP sucks (2, Interesting)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587281)

Considering there was a post on /. a bit ago claiming email was 95% spam... I would guess that services that can identify the message senders* would have less of a problem dealing with spam. Email spam is illegal, but as far as I know, Facebook spam and SMS spam are not. That makes a big difference. There have been plenty breakthroughs in messaging, and email is cold behind the times technically, socially and practically.

*either through public key encryption (anonymous) or by making people register to use the protocol (easy to bring charges against spammers)

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587307)

I guess I don't know your experience, but I use my SMS and facebook to keep in touch with those I care to really keep up with and get zero spam on either of them. I get a bit of ham on facebook, but it was all opt-in.

Please provide some context to how you end up with spam heavy facebook and sms, as I've been using both for more than two years (ish) and have had no problems.

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587065)

I am trying to use email less and less, while switching to Facebook/Twitter/SMS to get in touch with people.

But what people? Actually I like your plan. That should keep "those people" out of my e-mail. Let the damn wealth fairy go to twitbook!

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587319)

If you want to be snobby about it, that's your prerogative; I just want a decent messaging protocol to be implemented!

Re:SMTP sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587399)

the best parts of social networking

There's a good part to social networking?

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587853)

I agree with your premise, but I don't think it's terribly complicated. We need two laws:

1. All communication protocols must have an identity field. This may be left blank, which signifies "anonymous".
2. Lying in the identity field is a federal crime (not misdemeaner, crime).

That's it. With those, the market can easily construct devices (programs, whatever) to allow consumers to control spam to their heart's content.

Note that, just as an example, you can already ignore most of your "out of area" phone calls.

-Jeff

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588131)

1) Who's going to pay for all the devices that need to be replaced or updated to support the new communication protocol or the new feature of the existing communication protocols?

2) Why exactly do spammers outside the jurisdiction of the US and in a country with which the US doesn't have an extradition treaty care about a US federal law? [Repeat with $YOUR_FAVORITE_COUNTRY in place of US in the preceding question.]

For your final point, you can ignore most of your "out of area" phone calls ... unless you're a company that has customers outside your local area and you'd like for said customers, or new customers outside your local area, to be able to reach your company.

Re:SMTP sucks (1)

jgardia (985157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588681)

Wouldn't be easier if all ISPs block the port 25, and you have to ask for it to be opened? Something easy, 1 page you have to sign. Then, all home computers with non techie users will not be sending emails every time they get some virus. I would have no problem to sign a paper to keep my email server at home. Even here in Germany.

Re:SMTP sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587921)

Domain keys can be used for non-repudiation of email senders.

Gmail already encrypts email through its use of Https throughout a session vis-a-vis yahoo which only uses ssl during authentication.

You cannot have anonymous networks w/ domain keys.

Re:SMTP sucks (3, Informative)

stevied (169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587979)

At one point Internet Mail 2000 [cr.yp.to] looked like a nice idea. Quick summary: sender basically "publishes" the outgoing email on their server (or their ISPs server), and sends a ping to the recipient saying where it is.

This has the advantage, for spam tracking, that you have to have a valid IP address for the sender, which can easily be checked against blacklists. ISPs that detect a spam-run in progress can just drop all the spam from their server, and only recipients that have been really quick on the ball about responding to the pings will get the spam. Also, if a spam filter can make a decision based on the contents on the ping, the whole message doesn't have to be retrieved.

Looked at another way, it's basically just publishing a private blog entry and sending a notification ..

Re:SMTP sucks (0, Flamebait)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588025)

Microsoft's already attempting to solve your problem with Exchange, but you damned people refuse to use "Micro$oft" products!

Re:SMTP sucks (2, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588669)

Your post advocates a

(X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) 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
( ) 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
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) 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
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(X) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
(X) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(X) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
(X) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) 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
( ) 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
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
(X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
(X) 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!

how many superfreighters is that? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27586951)

We could save about 75% of the spam energy used today -- 25 TWh per year; that's like taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

Or far less than one container ship.

I know, that's for particulate and SO2 emissions, not CO2.

But still, kind of puts things in perspective, huh? Imagine if we bought fewer consumer goods from 8000 miles away... and how much less energy would be consumed. It could dwarf the savings from spam filtering -- not that this makes spam filtering any less of a good idea.

On a side note, I'd like to propose a new standard unit for the metrically challenged.

Superfreighter -- a unit for large amounts of particulate and SO2 pollution. Approximately equal to 50 million cars.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587057)

in terms of pound miles, driving my car to the store is far worse (so the problem isn't really that the cheap crap comes from 8,000 miles away, it is that it is being consumed at all).

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587133)

For fuel efficiency you are correct.

For particulates and SO2 emissions, not so... please see the article from earlier this morning/last night where it's discussed in detail. Freighters and superfreighters have an awfully dirty combustion process that uses awfully dirty fuel.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587265)

Sorry, link was on another site... not slashdot.

Here [guardian.co.uk] 's the article in question re: particulate, SO2, and NOx emissions of superfreighters.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587093)

Superfreighter -- a unit for large amounts of particulate and SO2 pollution. Approximately equal to 50 million cars.

Whoa, whoa. "Car" isn't a standard unit of measurement. I assume you meant Volkswagon Beetles, but then the conversion factor might not be the same.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587215)

I think you're getting a bit confused on the standard units.

Car is a standard unit for pollution (particularly CO2 emissions).

VW Beetles are a unit of length, but only when stacked or laid end-to-end.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

PFAK (524350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587919)

.. Or, hung off bridges [sfgate.com] ?

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

jae471 (1102461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588745)

I thought VW Beetles were a unit of volume. e.g. "It is large enough to fit 40 VW Beetles in it"

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587167)

I was going to smartly disprove you but i'll just leave it at.

I don't believe you.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587335)

it was in the news just this morning, i'm trying to find it

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587341)

You don't have to believe me. [guardian.co.uk]

But wait! There's more. Here [eurekalert.org] 's a link to a summary of another study. Sorry I don't subscribe to the Journal of Geophysical Research, or I'd link that actual study.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587597)

Thanks for the [citations], my cursory google search results were pretty tame. The car thing is still fear mongering though. Cars producing 101g of SO per year means cars don't really produce SO. Thats like saying a single brownie contains 50,000x the trans fat of a stick of 2nd gen margarine. Its true but its a meaningless benchmark. Though! Don't let that take away from the meaningful numbers. 60,000 deaths a year caused by it IS significant.
Oh and just to play devils advocate. Aside from moving some production of common goods closer. I wonder how efficient it would be to break up production coming from big factories into smaller ones across the globe. This makes me a strong proponent of taxing emissions. After we put a price on the environment capitalism will figure it out. We will either do as you say and move production closer. OR make ships much more efficient there is probably a lot of room for improvement. But at the moment it is simply not worth the bother to spend money fixing for no reason (from a companies pov). Most likely we'll do a bit of both.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587941)

I agree 100% on taxing emissions. I think we need to stop letting companies externalize costs like pollution.

Problem is, it's damn hard to quantify the costs and assess the tax fairly, especially when we're talking about tens of thousands of pollutants.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Tuna_Shooter (591794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587173)

Very Good i just read some research on why container ships are now sailing at 10 knots rather than their usual 25. The research says that even some old sailing ships were faster. Everybody want's every else to drive a Prius or use solar but when ALL the costs from the front end to the back end are calculated I think most people would be surprised at the amount of wasted energy and hazardous waste people need to deal with in using these "green" products.
http://envirostats.digitalcitizen.ca/2007/10/09/0175/ [digitalcitizen.ca] one of many links -- go do your own research.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587761)

On a side note, I'd like to propose a new standard unit for the metrically challenged.

Superfreighter -- a unit for large amounts of particulate and SO2 pollution. Approximately equal to 50 million cars.

Is this superfreighter carrying breadboxes, or whales maybe? Atomic bombs? I just need some perspective on this new unit of measurement.

And before I sign off on it, is this metric? Because as an American, I'll be damned if I'm going to use metric.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588167)

Is this superfreighter carrying breadboxes, or whales maybe? Atomic bombs? I just need some perspective on this new unit of measurement.

That's the beauty of the unit -- it's cargo-agnostic. It could be carrying flaps-of-butterfly-wings, or ponies (especially those of the OMG! variety), or printed Libraries of Congress if you really want to confuse the issue.

Re:how many superfreighters is that? (1)

6031769 (829845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588419)

Don't worry, you won't have to use complicated metric units like, say, Watts for power. Instead you can use the much simpler kilowatthourperannum as mentioned in TFS.

This is silly (4, Insightful)

spitzak (4019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587069)

If we worry about wasted computer cycles, I'm sure unnecessary screen savers are responsible for many orders of magnitude more. Or leaving flash animation ads running while you are not looking at it.

Re:This is silly (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587359)

Or leaving flash animation ads running while you are not looking at

Not to be confused with those Flash animation ads that you *do* look at.

Re:This is silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27588613)

and those CPU cycles wasted to run unoptimized and bad programmed software.

Just think about that!

Dear World, (2, Interesting)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587075)

Please stop responding to SPAM. If no one responds to it, then they won't make any money and they'll stop.

Sincerely,
A. Bettik

Re:Dear World, (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587145)

I wonder if the spammers were taken out on a main street and shot, would that discourage spammers? Or would it just give us all a smug feeling of satisfaction?

Re:Dear World, (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587287)

I wonder if the spammers were taken out on a main street and shot, would that discourage spammers?
Or would it just give us all a smug feeling of satisfaction?

Only one way to find out...

Re:Dear World, (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587649)

I wonder if the spammers were taken out on a main street and shot, would that discourage spammers?

A similar experiment was recently performed in an attempt to address piracy, but instead of a main street, it was a small lifeboat. Surviving peers of the dead teenaged pirates [breitbart.com] are claiming steadfast resolve to continue their pirate behavior.

Seth

Re:Dear World, (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587835)

Off topic, but how in the hell does being a teenager excuse you from being a criminal? In this case, it was cold-blooded piracy, murder, and kidnapping. If the "kids" from Columbine had been arrested, do you really think that they could be excused and "reformed" because of their youth?

Re:Dear World, (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588441)

Whoah... No need to jump this over to a debate on lethal force against teenagers. I mentioned the teenage angle to draw a faint parallel to the issue of software / music piracy. Not because I don't think those pirates should have been shot in that situation. I do think lethal force was justified against those perpetrators. And we should continue to shoot hostage takers when given the opportunity.

The article I linked to wasn't the best for making the parallel, however, because it does focus on the age issue. In the case of this captured pirate, as a taxpayer, I would hope we'd hand him over to Kenya for trial & punishment. If we lock him up for life in an American federal prison where it's going to cost something like $45k per year, I'm not sure how much we're going to accomplish at that cost. Defense Secretary Robert Gates realizes the expense to deal with this issue by capturing, shooting, or imprisoning the pirates will be immense [foxnews.com] . That's why he's advocating for propping up Somalia's infrastructure in some way so teenagers will be less inclined to become hostile pirates.

Seth

Re:Dear World, (4, Interesting)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587195)

Please stop responding to SPAM. If no one responds to it, then they won't make any money and they'll stop. Sincerely, A. Bettik

Can you actually respond to them? I once got a spam email and I was in a really pissed off mood and wanted to take it out on someone who deserved it, so I tried to contact the spammer. The email they included didn't work. There wasn't any phone number. I couldn't find any way of contacting them. I can't believe some of those morons actually make any money. Sometimes, I wonder if it's the ISPs that host those assholes that are pushing this shit. Maybe convincing stupid people that they can get rich sending mass electronic marketing or some other made up buzz word that obfuscates the fact that they are selling you a spammer package. Moron spammer buys it, sends out a bunch of emails, and then gives up after a while; only to have another moron take his place? Just guessing.

Re:Dear World, (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587497)

Please stop responding to SPAM. If no one responds to it, then they won't make any money and they'll stop.

I admire your optimism but doubt your conclusion. The problem is that you only have to convince people who actually pay for the spam to pay, and all you really have to convince them is rumours of past success by other spam runs. If I can make you believe that spamming is a succesful advertising strategy, then you might be willing to pay me to use it.

Of course you would not come back for a second round, but hey, there's another one born every minute...

Re:Dear World, (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587553)

Interesting @ You and SamSchnooks.

So you both think that the _actual Spammers don't make any money, but are just being bamboozled by the Mass E-Mail Providers into becoming Spammers on promises of wealth?

I never thought of it like that.

Re:Dear World, (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587559)

Please stop responding to SPAM. If no one responds to it, then they won't make any money and they'll stop.

You have a very simplistic view of the vast world of spam (which, by the way, should not be written in all capital letters [spam.com] ). Spammers can make money from spam, without anyone ever buying anything from them.

Rule #1: spammers lie. Spammers can offer to advertise your product on a double-opt-in targeted mailing list, for a fee. Once you've paid them up front, of course, they send out spam to every address they've scraped off the web, then quietly disappear while an angry mob runs you out of business. In theory, the spammers should be able to get away with this trick without ever actually sending any spam at all, but it's probably a lot easier to prosecute them for that.

That's a lotta power (2, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587087)

If my mental arithmetic serves, that would be roughlyyyy... 1.21 Gigawatts!

Sounds like.. (3, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587111)

.. someone is taking a popular "problem", tangently tying it to a technological issue & trying to figure out ways to sell feel-good services around them.

Oh, really? (4, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587153)

The majority of the energy is spent reading the spam and searching spam folders for legit mail, right?

So where is that energy coming from / going? Perhaps you're counting the energy of running my PC while I'm doing those things? But what's your "0 energy" baseline? Are you assuming that 30 secnods of me searching my email = 30 additional seconds before my computer gets to swtich to power-save mode? Because that's not always true -- it often means 30 seconds less of me playing some game before my ride shows up, and the computer goes to sleep at the same time it would've otherwise.

Maybe its the energy the server spends reading the email from disk that's significant. That might be a vaild concern...

Re:Oh, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587433)

It's funny that people on Slashdot are willing to accept this study because they hate SPAM. If the RIAA funded a similar study making up some numbers for how much CO2 BitTorrent traffic generates, people here would be up in arms.

Re:Oh, really? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587473)

But if you count it like that, they can't take into account the 30 seconds of breathing that you did while looking at the e-mail, and deciding to delete it or not, and they can't over-inflate their numbers.

Enlargement (1)

prakslash (681585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587247)

State-of-the-art filters? No way! Carbon footprint be damned.
A chance at enlarging the footprint of a certain body part of mine is more important to me!!

My Research On The Subject (4, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587251)

I have determined that email spam kills small children! And puppies! And endangered sand panthers!

The only way we can save our planet from the ecological abuse that is spam is for you to send me money. Lots of money. And then I'll jolly well put a stop to that! And I will too.

I love this new unit (2, Funny)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587283)

"cars off the road" is an awesome new unit. Now if only we can get the conversion factor to "Libraries of Congress," we can have some serious fun with numbers!

That's it !!!!! (2, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587311)

Everyone is now required to use gmail (best spam filter I've seen)..maybe the G is for green not google.

Re:That's it !!!!! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587833)

McAfree would shit their pants if everyone did that.

Re:That's it !!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587863)

Gmail uses postini... pretty sure anyway!

Re:That's it !!!!! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587991)

I get quite a bit of spam from gmail accounts to my gmail account. I sometimes think that gmail is penalizing me for being a good spam filterer by handing me extra spam to categorize :( On the other hand, I have over 6,000 messages in my 30-day-retention spam folder, so I guess it's not a serious problem.

Re:That's it !!!!! (1)

ekimd (968058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588261)

I wondered the same thing. Ever since I started using gmail I haven't had any problem with spam and I don't waste any time filtering, etc.

Re:That's it !!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27588747)

i also use Gmail and i don't receive spam at all.

The best scam EVAR. (1, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587347)

Good ol' carbon footprint. Best racket ever invented. You can sell a solution to a problem that doesn't exist and to solve the problem (after others have paid you (immense amounts of cash) to do so for them) is to do nothing!

Got a technology that would be inconvenient for your pocketbook? Say it has a large carbon footprint.
Got a company that isn't paying you money yet? Pass cap and trade legislation and make them pay you.
And just by coincidence you have the only [product] that meets carbon footprint standards...

The devil is a hack compared to Al Gore.

Re:The best scam EVAR. (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587825)

No, it's a good way to help judge ones impact.
The fact that these assholes abuse it and use it in a nonsense way is a different mater. Don't vent against a useful tool like Carbon Footprint, vent against assholes like McAfree

Re:The best scam EVAR. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27588667)

Fine. Never mind "carbon footprint". It's just "energy footprint", and then you can consider the costs of building more power plants in people's back yards, generating more pollution (of any type), using more materials, defending petroleum supplies militarily world-wide, et cetera. It doesn't have to be cast in terms of "carbon footprint" to be useful as a measure of what we already know: that spam is immensely wasteful and the burden is absorbed by everyone else rather than the people/businesses generating it.

Substitute "energy footprint" for "carbon footprint" and most of the same arguments still apply.

Unless you're saying that energy supply isn't a problem, won't be a problem in the future, and therefore no solution is necessary. Good luck with that.

The main problem is bot nets (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587429)

Most spam is sent from hijacked computers, so they're stealing OUR power to send spam to US.

A new Internet needed (1)

nmrtian (984245) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587521)

This really points out the need for a new Internet in which anonymous use is either very difficult or impossible. The spammers, phishers et al could be rooted out or blocked and the rest of us could get on with life.

Or suppose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27587709)

Or suppose we could take every person responsible for spam, roast them alive (as slowly as possible and in public) and use the energy of roasting them to produce electricity. That would be a huge leap forward.

Becasue thos erouters wouldnt (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587797)

be running anyways?
Stupid and and tenuous at best.

Re:Becasue thos erouters wouldnt (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27587915)

Didn't even bother to read the summary, then?

Not really... (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588061)

>'Imagine if every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter. We could save about 75% of the spam energy used today -- 25 TWh per year; that's like taking 2.3 million cars off the road.'

Um, yeah. No. Stopping spam at the recipient end, after it's already been generated at someone else's compromised machine and gone through all those tubes and things, isn't going to save much in the way of actual energy. I suspect this number is wildly optimistic, IE, made up.

I mean, I hate spam as much as the next computer user, maybe even more, as sysadmins see more of the larger impact. There is some amount of vicarious satisfaction in focusing the Fury of the Greens at spam. But if you're really sincere about saving energy, and not just indulging in hyperbole, you want to stop it at the sending end.

Figures never lie, but liars figure. (1)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588121)

Seriously, I'm tired of all these so called studies that say we can save X number of units of some value if we stop doing Y with a computer, or alter some other process. I know "going green" is the new catchphrase, but a lot of this nonsense is, well, nonsense. It should be of more concern the amount of time spam email wastes, and the money idiots waste actually replying to, or buying from, those activities. If a spam message gets through the filters already in place, I spend a few seconds to identify it as spam and press delete. That's a few seconds per year in my case.

Bogus Presumption? (1)

AustinSlacker (728596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588237)

I'll admit that I did not RTFA, but on the surface it appears that this is based on the presumption that time spent dealing with spam = energy wasted. I don't understand how they can presume this. As if the systems would be off or in some lower power state if they were not being used for handling the spam messages? How many people put their systems into a lower power mode when not being actually used by the human? I would guess very few. Does my monitor use more energy displaying spam than it does displaying anything else? I don't think so. My PC is running mprime when it is "idle", so in my case, the PC probably uses less energy when I am using the system than when it is "idle". This is sort of like Microsoft proclaiming that a study they sponsored revealed that IE is better/faster/stronger than the other browsers. Of course McAfee is going to portray spam in the most evil light it can. Since the catch phrase of the day is being "green", anything they can do to make their products appear to help you or your company become more "green", is a marketing coup on their part.

please buy our spam filtering solution (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588279)

'spam filtering actually saves an incredible amount of energy.' He continues, 'Imagine if every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter. We could save about 75% of the spam energy used today -- 25 TWh per year; that's like taking 2.3 million cars off the road."

anti spam solution (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588325)

Change your email address once every six weeks, don't ever user your real email address to subscribe to online mags, like slashdot ..

Algore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27588361)

Didn't Al Gore invent spam? Maybe we could buy carbon credits from him so we can send more spam and feel good about ourselves.

I just want to give everyone a big green hug!

Groundhog spam Day (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588385)

Talking of spam in mid 2009, is like being stuck in Groundhog Day [wikipedia.org] or these people who seem to be stuck in the same 36 hours [wikipedia.org] .

Helpful Unit Conversions (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588479)

"33 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually, which is approximately enough to power 2.4 million US homes (or roughly 3.1 million cars) for a year"

You can't power cars with kilowatts. If you're going to make a nonsensical unit conversion, make it good. Spam uses around 8.761 x 10^16 foot pounds, or 1.188 x 10^24 ergs, or 7.451 x 10^35 electron volts. Still working on how many parsecs it would cut off the the Kessel run.

Numbers are bogus. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588519)

From the article: "A year's email at a typical medium-sized business uses 50,000 KWh."

What's a "medium sized business"? In the US, 100 to 500 employees. In the EU, 50 to 250 employees. So let's use 250 employees as a "typical medium sized business".

How much email infrastructure is needed for 250 employees? Not much. If you use Microsoft's sizing data for Exchange servers [microsoft.com] , Microsoft says you need 2.5 MIPS per mailbox, and 0.75 I/O operations per second per mailbox. So for 250 employees, one low-end rackmount server is more than enough; it's about 3x the capacity needed. You'd like to have at least two, for redundancy, of course, with RAID disks in both. So you need two 1U servers, four drives, and a router or two. One study suggests 200 watts per server [amd.com] , but that's based on Google, which worries about power efficiency. And it doesn't include air conditioning load. So figure 1KW for the mail system, or 12KWH/day, or 8760 KWh/year. That's based on very generous sizing of everything.

This is less than 20% of the number in the paper. How did they possibly get a number 5x that big? Are they allocating idle desktop machine resources to mail?

politicians (1)

TechwoIf (1004763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588609)

Wow, this may be the ticket to get politicians to pass some anti-spam laws with real teeth to them. All politicians want to look good. Looking like they are saving the environment is a good cause.

Money Grab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27588671)

This is a blatant attempt to rationalize putting money into the "War Against Spam" on the basis of the environmental hysteria.

For all I care, the conclusion about energy waste may be accurate, but what other useless activities would we be doing with those resources if we eliminated spam?

The economic footprint of spam (1)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27588713)

The fundamental point doesn't have much to do with environmental impact, although large data centers do have a large footprint in whatever units. The real issue is who pays the price and whether society should reward such behavior. The only people who would argue for spam providing a "benefit" are the spammers and meta-spammers themselves.

The economic footprint of an activity almost always comes down to the tragedy of the commons [dieoff.org] . Not just why should society put up with such antisocial and expensive behavior - but how can we practically dissuade malfactors from engaging in such?

That said, it is often surprisingly straightforward to compute the expense (in some measure) of an activity. For instance, the marginal cost of gzip versus Rice compression was computed to be $2.83 more per image for an archival project I was involved in. The precise cost would be different now (three years later) but would be quite significant.

As with spam, an archive is a store and forward (and replicate and persist) system. Each permanent copy has an expense. Each temporary copy has an expense. Each network replication has an expense. It is the aggregate throughput of the workflow. I wouldn't personally think that carbon footprint was the best way to express this, but someone has to pay that cost - and very frequently it isn't the party creating the mess in the first place.

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