Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm Afraid They're Actually Serious

At first I thought this was an Onion piece, but no, it's the Guardian, and they're being serious:

What's the carbon footprint of ... email?
The carbon footprint of spam:
0.3g CO2e: A spam email
4g CO2e: A proper email
50g CO2e: An email with long and tiresome attachment

Our recent piece on the carbon footprint of the internet generated plenty of coverage, so next up in our map of the world's carbon emissions is … email.

Of course, sending and receiving electronic message is never going to constitute the largest part of our carbon footprints. But the energy required to support our increasingly heaving and numerous in-boxes does add up.

Very roughly speaking (remember that all complex carbon footprints are really best guesses), a typical year of incoming mail for a business user – including sending, filtering and reading – creates a carbon footprint of around 135kg. That's over 1% of of a relatively green 10-tonne lifestyle and equivalent to driving 200 miles in an average car.

And the blahblah goes on from there. You can read it all if you like: here. Does anyone really take navel gazing to this extreme? Are the writers even serious?

I have this vision of a future in which we're all confined to our chairs -- where we sit alone, not moving, not consuming, now, not even communicating. Meanwhile the Uberconsumers like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio thunder around in their private jets making sure that nobody has gotten out of their seats or used their coffee makers.

The good news: the zealots aren't interested in actually living by the rules they ask others to accept. The bad news: they think they can legislate restrictions that won't cause them hardships. And for the very rich, sure, maybe they can -- Al Gore can afford a $30,000/month utility bill, I'm sure another $10,000 won't break him. And Leonardo DiCaprio won't notice if the price of gas doubles or even quadruples. But the rest of us will.

Thankfully it looks like November 2nd will be a step away from big government boots stomping around in our lives. But everyone needs to get out there and vote. If we leave it for the other guy to toss the bums out, they might not all get tossed. And even if you think you live in a hopelessly Democrat state, make your voice heard by voting.