Transports of delight: Brave New Email World
The trick about sustainable transportation is that it does not stop with your spiffy new Lexus or that surely much-deserved jet trip to vacation in Mexico. It gets us even as you and I sit in our chairs and gravely ponder what to do next to make a difference in this largely unsustained planet. But what about this one small choice to be a bit more carbon-lite in our day to day lives?
1. What's our problem?
The carbon footprint of email: mine, yours, spammers –in 2011:
A single spam email - 0.3g CO2e:
A proper email - 4g CO2e:
An email with long and tiresome attachment - 50g CO2e:
These minuscule numbers when multiplied by very very big numbers (for example: an estimated 62 trillion spam e-mails last year) yield some surprising results.
For example a recent McAfee study reports that "the world deleting spam and searching for legitimate e-mail falsely labeled as junk creates the annual energy consumption equivalent in the U.S. of 2.4 million homes using electricity and the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion gallons of gas." (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/oct/21/carbon-footprint-email"
2. What you and I should be able to do about it?
Okay. Got it! So here is my personal sever-step proposal, which I am ready to day to sign on to right now:
1. I want to pay for every email I send.
2. I want to pay some small amount (say five cents per message sent) while . . .
3. . . . being protected by an impenetrable wall from all undesired spam.
4. I want 80% of the amounts I pay in to go directly to the registered charity of my choice.
5. I want to be able to have access to a carbon-lite, spam free, easy to use, better than Outlook (which I largely appreciate) mail program, that with each click reminds me that I am doing a small bit for the most important cause we know.
6. I want to be sure that I and all who sign up for this do it yourself environmental service are clearly and publicly identified for exercising this option.
The good thing about this proposal is that it is gives us "Tobin e-tax" of a sort (see http://www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/664/Tobin_tax:_could_it_work__.html for a pretty good summary), but by its simple choice-rich structure permits each person to make the simple, low-cost key choices while at the same time not having to wait for the General Assembly to pass a vote or the Congress a law.
I am quite sure that there are millions of other people on this gasping planet who are ready to do the same.
Imagine the environmental as well as the social impacts if huge numbers of us decide to do the same.
Someone please point me in the right direction. I would imagine that there is something out there that is already doing this necessary job.
Sustainable Development, Enterprise & Society – http://sustain.ecoplan.org
PS. Click here to cast your vote in the poll - http://networkdispatches.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/brave-new-email-world-transports-of-delight/#more-1863
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