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Cut Back on Email If You Want to Fight Global Warming

Data storage could balloon to 8% of planetary energy use by 2030.

relates to Cut Back on Email If You Want to Fight Global Warming
Illustration: Nick Little

Everyone has seen the warning. At the bottom of the email, it says: “Please consider the environment before printing.” But for those who care about global warming, you might want to consider not writing so many emails in the first place.

More and more, people rely on their electronic mailboxes as a life organizer. Old emails, photos, and files from years past sit undisturbed, awaiting your search for a name, lost address, or maybe a photo of an old boyfriend. The problem is that all those messages require energy to preserve them. And despite the tech industry’s focus on renewables, the advent of streaming and artificial intelligence is only accelerating the amount of fossil fuels burned to keep data servers up, running, and cool.