Whether it's an official job or an academic one, you've mailed a file to someone, and he or she may have sent you a 'thank you' in response. You may be surprised to know that this small acknowledgment can be detrimental to the environment and climate.
A study by Ovo Energy, a UK-based energy retail company, found that if every adult in the UK did not send at least one thank-you e-mail a day, it would be possible to save 16,433 tonnes of carbon by the end of the year. These unnecessary e-mails are having a huge impact on the carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint?
The most widely discussed element of ecological action is the carbon footprint. This is the amount of space needed to absorb carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and other sources. In other words, the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emitted by a particular population, process, or workspace is considered to be the carbon footprint of that region.
What does the research say?
Ovo Energy released the research report on e-mail on November 26 last year (2019). The study was conducted in the second week of November by experienced surveyors on about 3,000 adults over the age of 16. According to the study, 72% of people in the UK are unaware of the connection of carbon footprint to the inbox of e-mail. As a result of this unawareness, 72 million unnecessary e-mails are sent every day, adding 23,465 tons of carbon to the country's carbon footprint at the end of the year.
E-mail is an integral part of communication in today's world. But since the trend of sending e-mails to necessary work has started, the number of unnecessary e-mails has also been increasing. Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to sending unsolicited emails to their office colleagues or friends from a distance. Ovo lists the ten words that are most often sent as unsolicited mail. At the top of this list is ' Thank You '.
Ovo says that if every adult in the UK sends one less such e-mail per day, it is possible to reduce carbon emissions by 16,433 tonnes by the end of the year. The company compares the two to show just how big the savings are. 16,433 tons of carbon is the equivalent of carbon emitted from 81,152 flights to Madrid! (The distance from London's Heathrow Airport to Madrid Airport is 1,250 kilometers. Each flight emits an average of 0.162 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.) Equal! In England, a diesel car travels an average of 9,400 miles a year. The average amount of carbon dioxide emitted per mile is 0.5243 kg.
The British have always been known as a polite nation, so their position in sending thank-you mails is very high. However, Ovo found in their survey that 71% of Britons would not mind sending such emails if they knew or understood, that this could lead to a climate crisis.
How does e-mail emit carbon dioxide?
Unnecessary e-mails can be harmful to the environment in three ways.
First of all, the network system that we need to be connected to send the e-mail containing the short message, we need electricity or electrical connection. When this e-mail is displayed on someone else's phone or laptop, it also takes electricity. When e-mail travels from one place to another via the Internet, each server stores or stores the e-mail for a period of time, wherever electricity is consumed. This electricity directly plays a role in carbon emissions. An e-mail with a short message emits at least 4 grams of carbon dioxide.
Second, if we send an image or still image as an attachment instead of a message, it will naturally take up more space to store it on the server. When that picture goes from one place to another, it will take time, it will consume more electricity. Each image can therefore emit 50 grams of carbon dioxide. Spam emails, however, emit less carbon dioxide, 0.3 grams each. Because most of these emails we do not open, many times these emails are automatically deleted. So carbon emissions are also low.
Third, if you send 65 e-mails, that would be the equivalent of one kilometer in a private car. On average, one person sends and receives e-mails each year, adding 136 grams of carbon to the carbon footprint. This is equivalent to traveling an additional 136 kilometers in a private car. The number of e-mails sent worldwide is equivalent to putting an additional seven million new personal cars on the road.
Mike Berners, a professor at the University of Lancaster in England, has been a consultant to Lee Ovo Energy. In his opinion,
If we can engage ourselves in these small steps to reduce carbon emissions, we too can join the campaign to escape the horrors of the climate crisis.
Mike is the brother of Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web. He was once asked if he would blame his brother. He smiled and replied,
Good things can be done through the web, if we can use it wisely.
Ovo Energy has come up with a slogan titled ' Think Before You Thank ' through this research report. They say that refraining from sending some emails does not mean that the climate problem will be solved. But through this, we understand that by reducing the waste we can reduce carbon as well as improve our lives.