The Environmental Cost of Emails
Many of our activities produce carbon emissions. Not everyone realises that even a humble email or google search contributes to the impact of worldwide carbon emissions, and it is one that we can change.
…everything and every aspect of life has a carbon footprint – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. This includes email:
An average spam email: 0.3 g CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent)
A standard email: 4 g CO2e
An email with “long and tiresome attachments”: 50 g CO2e
Mike Berners-Lee: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, (2010).https://carbonliteracy.com/the-carbon-cost-of-an-email/
- How many of us receive tons of irrelevant emails or notifications on a daily basis, that are quickly deleted?
- Do you search on Google, or try to remember something first?
There is a lot we can do about the environmental cost of emails and google searches in our own part of the universe. As well as writing, I spend time seated at my desk reading information, emails, newsletters on the screen and wondered collectively how wasteful it is deleting irrelevant or junk emails that enter my inbox uninvited and even more that I have inadvertently welcomed. Mostly via sign up offers for 25% off.
Enough! I say.
Unsubscribe to Irrelevant Unwanted Email
I’ve now unsubscribed to those junk style product emails. The mail that originates from stores and product vendors that fill the junk mail/inbox. Or worse still, those unscrupulous individuals/companies who purchase your email addy via a database of addresses sold to them by a third party; scammers who want you to invest in Bitcoin or some African gentleman who has just inherited a million dollars.
It took me more time to unsubscribe than I’d like to admit. I unsubscribed to newsletters and sales emails, from fashion, hi-fi stores, furniture, hardware and hair product houses, even several blogs and news sites, I no longer wished to follow.
We need information but need quality info, not quantity.
Opening my email account each morning has since become more liberating. With fewer emails to sort and clear, there’s less screen time, less time spent sitting, less carbon emissions needlessly produced and, I still get to read the salient info that’s important to me.
Such as the WordPress bloggers, I enjoy following.
It is one small and very achievable, direct behavioural change each of us can make, NOW. A step closer towards living a more 1.5 °C lifestyle.
Transitioning to Carbon Pricing
We need to have a transition not only into decarbonisation of the energy systems in terms of technologies, but we also need 1.5°C lifestyles.Prof. Johan Rockström
Most of us own or want a car. Most of us want or have electricity – things that require the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon pricing would assist and accelerate the scale of the transition from reliance on fossil fuel technologies. This concept is unpopular in some circles and certainly in Australia, given our historic reliance on coal. But there is hope:
Professor Johan Rockstom again:
Sixty-one countries in the world have adopted a price on carbon…. so far, the carbon price is not efficient because it’s set at a too low level. But the European Union is the first example in the world of a region where the carbon pricing system is starting to work, because it’s starting to come up to scientific parity in the level of pricing at over 60 Euros per tonne of carbon dioxide.
The challenge, though, is to have robust, resilient nature-based solutions and not to fool ourselves in investing in offsetting mechanisms that have already been factored into the climate models that give us a carbon budget. So, you know, the only reason why we have a remaining carbon budget….is that we assume that nature will continue to be a net carbon sink.
So we need nature-based solutions, but we cannot use them to slow down the pace of emission reductions from fossil fuel emissions.pendantry.wordpress.com/
Initiatives in Reducing Carbon
Some propose restoring nature and regeneration of deserts and forests as nature-based carbon sink. I believe this is one critical and essential step, in any scenario. Others support further investment and development of renewable energies, electrification of higher-carbon emitting industries, a carbon tax, (but don’t mention this in Australia as it’s a political death knell), improving home design, sustainable agriculture and transport options as examples of achievable transitory steps.
While no one has all the answers, there are things we CAN do, and that is where our intent and our legacy should lie in the first instance, while we drag politicians and industry on board.
Our future world depends on it.