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Power company OVO wants rudeness to save the planet

Peter Lee

In an article for the World Economic Forum's website (How your 'thank you' emails are polluting the planet) it is argued that Britons " send more than 64 million unnecessary emails per day, a study by energy supplier OVO Energy found, with unactionable pleasantries such as 'thank you' and 'thanks' topping the list of most common offenders." So, the theory goes, we should be discourteous to save the planet. Are there other, more socially acceptable ways of reducing the carbon footprint of our internet use?

"Mike Berners-Lee, an expert on carbon footprinting at Britain's Lancaster University who carried out the analysis," (quoted from the Thomson Reuters' Foundation article, says that OVO is "absolutely not" asking people to be rude. They claim that 71% of Britons would be happy not to get a thank-you note if it meant carbon reduction. Well, one can prove anything with statistics. Like the people who claim that a large proportion of messaging app users consider it rude if someone puts a full stop at the end of a message. Berners-Lee has a point when he says "if they are only three metres away from you, go and say thank you in person." Well based on a sample of one, this writer says 100% of people would think poorly of someone who, being more than three metres away, didn't reply to say thanks.

But if e-mails are such a bad thing, then climate change activists should be targeting all those services that permit the sending of spam. Google, Microsoft, Amazon are all at the top of the heap. How much more carbon does an e-mail take up than a WhatsApp, WeChat or other instant message, with or without an image? Do emoticons create more carbon than words? We should be told.

e-mails are nothing more than data transmitted over the internet. So if they are a problem, then what about all the inconsequential junk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al. And what about comments pages on media websites to say nothing about the people who reply to on-line questions saying "I don't know"?

Can we make some kind of statutory block against the people on LinkedIn who write diatribes about fake things that happened to them or that they have done and which sometimes thousands of gullible readers post kind responses? Do we really need to know what Bill Gates is reading or how Richard Branson priorities the tea bag and milk when he's making tea? And do we need all the replies saying "can we meet, sir" or "thanks for the recommendation, I'll definitely read it," or some such sycophantic rubbish?

"If each adult sent one less email a day, Britain could reduce its carbon output by 16,433 tonnes - equal to more than 81,000 flights from London to Madrid the study found," says the TRF article.

And just think how much carbon could be saved if we were not reading articles about saving carbon or looking at banners, which we cannot block, promoting the World Economic Forum in LinkedIn, posted by people who think they are being interesting by doing that, or by republishing or liking or responding to them so they appear even more frequently.

What's that expression - physician heal thyself?

WEF: go on then. Do it.

And tell your sponsors and bigwigs to look at what the products they put out into the market contribute to the problem.

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