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Most of us view spam as an annoyance with the greatest cost associated with junk email being our time. However an even bigger price is being paid by the environment, a problem underscored by the startling amount of junk email that now flutters across the web. We're talking about 62 trillion spam messages in 2008 alone, according to a report released by McAfee.
In terms of the environment, McAfee researchers say each piece of junk email emits 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2), or a combined 17 million metric tons of CO2 for all spam-related emissions in 2008.
"The amount released into the atmosphere is significant," said Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee. "Spam has a big carbon footprint. It's something people be aware of."
Most of the spam-related greenhouse gas emission -- 80 percent -- comes from the energy used by PC users to view, delete, and sort for legitimate messages, McAfee says. The silver lining here is that by taking steps to reduce spam, you not only reclaim your inbox, but also can have a noticeable impact on the environment.