Earth Hour: What is the carbon footprint of an email?
SENDING a text message or email, eating an apple or watching TV — each of these activities has a different carbon footprint.
People around the world are getting ready to mark Earth Hour by turning out the lights on Saturday, but a long list of seemingly harmless everyday actions also contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other planet-harming greenhouse gases.
Total global emissions in 2010 were estimated at 49 gigatonnes (Gt or billion tonnes) of CO2 equivalent (CO2e).
These are taken from How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee, Fifth Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, McAfee study “Carbon Footprint of Spam”.
EMAIL AND INTERNET
Even a short email is estimated to have a footprint of four grammes (0.14 ounces) of CO2e (3.9gCO2e) — including greenhouse gases produced in running the computer, server and routers and a part of their manufacture.
An email with a large attachment emits about 50gCO2e, and a spam message, not even opened by the recipient, is responsible for 0.3gCO2e.
The annual global footprint of spam is equivalent to 3.1 million passenger cars on the road in a year, using two billion gallons (7.6 billion litres) of gasoline.
A web search on an energy-efficient laptop leaves a footprint of 0.2gCO2e, and on an old desktop computer some 4.5gCO2e.
A cellphone text message comes at a cost of about 0.014gCO2e.
A plastic carrier bag leaves a footprint of 10gCO2e, and a paper bag 40gCO2e.
A pint (473 millilitres) of water from the tap generates 0.14gCO2e compared to 160gCO2e for a 500 ml store-bought bottle.
A large cappuccino comes at 235gCO2e, compared to 21gCO2e for a cup of black coffee or tea for which just enough water was boiled.
An hour of TV watching on a 15-inch (38-centimetre) LCD screen yields 34gCO2e, compared to 88gCO2e on a 32-inch LCD screen, and 220gCO2e on a 24-inch plasma screen.
A mile of cycling powered by a meal of bananas would be responsible for 65gCO2e, compared to 260gCO2e for a mile powered by cheeseburgers.
Meanwhile, in light of the Earth Hour celebration tomorrow, Malaysian Digest quotes Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib as saying that if 350 buildings in the city participates in the programme tomorrow, the City Hall will introduce new cycling routes in the city as a reward.
In conjunction with this year’s Earth Hour, Malaysia will be joining 162 countries worldwide to switch off their lights for one hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm tomorrow (March 28).