CBS Frets Too Much E-MAILING Contributes to Global Warming

On Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, correspondent Mark Phillips devoted a full report to fretting that all the e-mailing and computer usage, as well as other ways people consume energy at home, is actually counterracting the environmental “silver lining” that liberals have tried to take comfort in during the pandemic as fewer people drive to work.

Fill-in co-host Jericka Duncan set up the report by lamenting that the U.N. estimates the drop in carbon emissions in 2020 — due to less travel — is not enough to impact global warming:

When people all over the world don’t go to the office, there are fewer cars on the road. That’s good for stopping air pocket pollution, but a recent U.N. report found an unexpected seven percent drop in emissions this year will have an insignificant effect on the overall global warming trend.

She then intoned: “Mark Phillips shows how working from home can actually impact the planet more than you may realize.”

In a pre-recorded piece by Philips — who is CBS News bureau chief in London — he quickly warned that working from home is not helping the environment as much as environmentalists might have hoped;

For a lot of us in these COVID times, the morning commute has developed into its own routine, fighting all that traffic down the hallway and into the home office. But if there’s one consolation to this new way of life, it’s the feeling that, however solitary, it may be better for the planet. We are, after all, producing a whole lot less of the global warming greenhouse gases that we used to by spewing our way to work in our cars and then spending our days in power-hungry offices.

He then then poured cold water onto the concerns of liberals:

Well, hold the smugness. Working from home is not cost-free, and the more of us who do it, the more environmentally expensive it becomes. Every e-mail and text, especially the unnecessary little ones — every “thank you” and “got it,” — every time we hit send or download or stream or Zoom, they all require power. Somewhere massive banks of computers are storing and processing that data, sucking up enormous amounts of electrical energy to do it. The cloud doesn’t so much have a silver lining as a carbon one.

Phillips then turned to environmental author Mike Berners-Lee for the usual carbon-footprint lecture: “But, on the other hand, if you’re at home with the heating on, which it wouldn’t otherwise have to be, then that’s not so good, and you’re probably using more computing stuff than you would be.”

Phillips then recounted that it takes lots of energy to process e-mails, noting the huge quantities that are sent. He then related a British study estimating that “if everyone in Britain sent one less “thank you” e-mail a day, the carbon saving would be like taking about three and a half thousand cars off the road.”

“Hold the smugness” is probably not something CBS should be throwing at the viewers. Somehow, Phillips didn’t try to do the calculation of how much power is horrendously spent on people watching CBS. 

This episode of CBS This Morning was sponsored in part by Nissan, which is also ironic with the carbon impact. Their contact information is linked.

Transcript follows:

CBS This Morning

December 23, 2020

7:39 a.m. Eastern

JERICKA DUNCAN: This morning, in ourseries, “Eye on Earth,” we look at how working from home is affecting the environment. When people all over the world don’t go to the office, there are fewer cars on the road. That’s good for stopping air pocket pollution, but a recent U.N. report found an unexpected seven percent drop in emissions this year will have an insignificant effect on the overall global warming trend. Mark Phillips shows how working from home can actually impact the planet more than you may realize.

MARK PHILLIPS; For a lot of us in these COVID times, the morning commute has developed into its own routine, fighting all that traffic down the hallway and into the home office. But if there’s one consolation to this new way of life, it’s the feeling that, however solitary, it may be better for the planet. We are, after all, producing a whole lot less of the global warming greenhouse gases that we used to by spewing our way to work in our cars and then spending our days in power-hungry offices.

Well, hold the smugness. Working from home is not cost-free, and the more of us who do it, the more environmentally expensive it becomes. Every e-mail and text, especially the unnecessary little ones — every “thank you” and “got it,” — every time we hit send or download or stream or Zoom, they all require power. Somewhere massive banks of computers are storing and processing that data, sucking up enormous amounts of electrical energy to do it. The cloud doesn’t so much have a silver lining as a carbon one.

MIKE BERNERS-LEE, AUTHOR: I mean, it’s certainly good for the planet to save your commute.

PHILLIPS: But Mike Berners-Lee, who has written on the carbon cost of everything, says it’s not that simple.

BERNERS-LEE; But, on the other hand, if you’re at home with the heating on, which it wouldn’t otherwise have to be, then that’s not so good, and you’re probably using more computing stuff than you would be.

PHILLIPS: Think about it: Every e-mail we send not only requires electricity to write — as it travels across the internet and gets stored and transferred from one megaserver to another, gobbling up energy along the way. Then, if it gets read, it sucks up even more power. An e-mail may use just five percent of the power needed to deliver a paper letter, but we send and receive gazillions of them. Someone here has actually done the math and figured that if everyone in Britain sent one less “thank you” e-mail a day, the carbon saving would be like taking about three and a half thousand cars off the road. It’s just a rough calculation, but the principle is accurate.

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