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Even your email is contributing to global warming, report say​s

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cutting back on emails could lower your carbon footprint, helping to cut down on global warming, if you want to believe a new Bloomberg report.

What are the details?

On Saturday, Bloomberg's Emily Chasan said that "data storage could balloon to 8% of planetary energy use by 2030," which is why users should consider the environment before proceeding with forwarding along those chain letters.

"For those who care about global warming, you might want to consider not writing so many emails in the first place," Chasan advised.

Chasan pointed out that the problem with storing old emails in your inbox and in archives is that "all those messages require energy to preserve them" and that streaming and A.I. accelerates "the amount of fossil fuels burned to keep data servers up, running, and cool."

Chasan added that data centers currently use about 2% of the world's electricity, and that number is expected to reach 8% in the next decade. She also pointed out that we're holding on to old emails for no reason at all.

"Moreover, only about 6% of all data ever created is in use today," she writes. "That means 94% is sitting in a vast 'cyber landfill,' albeit one with a massive carbon footprint."

Andrew Choi, a senior researcher at Parnassus Investment, said that the cost of storing such redundant data is equivalent to maintaining the airline industry.

Every day, Chasan wrote, worldwide internet users produce "about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data."

Phillipe Zaouati, CEO of Mirova, said that emissions in the tech sector are "increasingly getting out of control."

"We need to decrease carbon emissions, and what we see in the IT sector is increasing emissions," he fretted.

So what is the tech industry doing to combat this?

BloombergNEF reported that the technology industry has been investing in more renewable energy than ever before.

“Data-center need is moving so quickly that most companies can't keep up," said Kevin Hagen, vice president of environmental social governance strategy at Iron Mountain.

The outlet also reported that Microsoft has launched a "sustainability calculator" for cloud-based consumers in order to hold them accountable for data and energy uses.

“It's a question customers were increasingly asking," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said. “I don't think there's much doubt in our minds about this as a decade-long, global phenomenon where we are going to see an inexorable rise in demand for technology."

One last thing…
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