EcoModo - The Best of Treehugger

This week at TreeHugger: We look at a few of the eco-effects of email spam, a phenomenon that increased 147 percent in 2006 and caused a 334 percent increase in processing requirements for corporate email. A little birdie chirps about the various resources required by various types of information technology (and it's a lot). Check out the E-Cube, a handy little device that could save more greenhouse gas emissions than taxes on gas guzzling cars, low energy light bulbs and wind turbines on houses combined. Lastly, join us for a spin on the Hiker, a tricycle that has done away with the inefficiencies of both traditional bicycles and recumbent bicycles and tricycles to create a truly unique ride.

About 94 percent of all email is spam, according to a recent communication intelligence report, and the annoying phenomenon increased 147 percent in 2006 and caused a 334 percent increase in processing requirements for corporate email; all numbers which are bad for TreeHuggers and email enthusiasts everywhere. Some systems are simply melting down under the pressure, with too many messages for the medium to handle. And when you add up the massive amount of hardware and energy needed to keep the global electronic mail system afloat, a six percent "success rate" just won't cut the mustard. What to do? We figure a global, centralized email is probably the best way to deliver this service: centralization reduces the massive redundancy of resources — multiple email servers, support personnel, etc. — and it also reduces spam, as each one that is detected is removed for millions of users at once. Would no spam be worth having big brother watching your email?

A little birdie recently filled us in on some of the cold, hard numbers involving energy and resource use in the information technology industry. For example, percentage of senior IT professionals that are concerned about the negative impacts that their company is having on the environment, according to a recent study: 98%. Percent of energy that goes into manufacturing a computer, relative to its lifespan: 81%. Ratio of the cost of running a low end server to the cost of the energy used to power it: 1:1. Percent of their budget that IT departments spends right now for powering equipment:10%; the percent they will spend in 2008: 50%. Number of computers that Greg Papadopoulos, Sun Microsystems CTO, believes the world will end up needing: 5. Number of computers in the world right now: 700,000,000+. Hmm.

E-Cube is a handy little gadget that could save more greenhouse gas emissions than taxes on gas guzzling cars, low energy light bulbs and wind turbines on houses combined. It's a plastic box filled with wax that has a heat transfer characteristic similar to food, and goes in refrigerators. What? Okay, refrigeration units usually monitor circulating air temperature in order to decide when to switch on and off. However, circulating air temperature tends to rise quickly, far more quickly than food temperature and, as a result, refrigeration works harder than necessary to maintain stored products at the right temperature. This in turn leads to excessive electricity consumption and undue wear and tear on the equipment. Designed for display-case fridges, it won't work quite as well in a residential setting, unless your fridge spends more time open than closed, but it's still a pretty slick little concept.

Lastly, take a ride on the Hiker, a tricycle concept that has supposedly done away with the inefficiencies of both traditional bicycles and recumbent bicycles and tricycles. How? For starters, the seat is at standard chair height and does not require a complicated movement to get onto and off of. The revolutionary tangent lever design abolishes circular pedal travel in favor of a simple leg extension (like in rowing) for forward movement. Due to the versatility of this design, all that is required is a simple internal 3-speed hub to ensure optimal gearing with minimal changes. As for turning, all that’s required is an intuitive lean, thanks to the new center-pivot steering.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.