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Worried about kerbstones.

Climate change, nuclear terrorism and the inevitable demise of the solar system in a few billion years' time are all very well, but Chinese kerbstones are going too far in the threats to humanity that we must face up to. That, I fear, was the inevitable conclusion I came to when deleting my emails this morning.

There were the usual messages from exotic women who had seen my details and would like to get to know me, companies eager to demand money from my bank for payment protection insurance that they may have charged me, offers from Nigeria of vast sums of money if I give them my bank details, and messages from the email administrator that my in-box was full of messages from exotic women, claims companies, Nigerians and the email administrator himself.

However, I also spotted a newcomer among the unsolicited, unwanted mail: from a Chinese manufacturer and exporter of grey granite kerbstones

eager to supply all of my kerbstone needs. And all my old worries about emails were reignited.

I last wrote about this problem five years ago when the number of emails sent every day worldwide was around 183 billion. The figure is now over 400bn, and about 83 per cent of them are of the instantly deletable variety known as spam. The very first email was sent in 1971 and led to a rapid explosion in electronic communication.

Over the next 35 years, the total number of emails grew exponentially at a rate equal to a sixfold increase every four years. That rate, thanks to worldwide computer saturation, has now slowed, but the rate of spam emails has increased slowly, and the combined effect is that the number of emails that require instant deletion now roughly doubles every three years.

So today's daily figure of 330 billion spam emails will grow to 660 billion in 2015, 1.32 trillion in 2018, and the five trillion mark will be passed in 2024.

But how long does it take to delete an email? At the very least, one has to read the subject, decide it is junk, press the 'delete' button and wait for the computer to do its job.

In my experience, that takes at least an average of 2.5 seconds per email, which works out at 24 emails a minute, or 144 an hour, or 1,152 in an eight-hour working day.

In 2025, the world population is predicted to be around eight billion, of which four billion will be of working age. The world's entire working population, in the highly unlikely event of 100 per cent employment, will therefore be able to delete 4.6trn emails a day if they work flat out. But as we have seen, there will by 2024 be over five trillion deletions to be made.

The sad conclusion is that by 2023 at the latest, the world will cease to function, as the entire working lives of everyone on the planet will be taken up deleting emails.

I would therefore be most grateful if these wretched Chinamen did not write again with their offers to sell me grey granite kerbstones or they will have no use other than as tombstones for our demise by global mailing.

Copyright 2012 Al Hilal Publishing & Marketing Group

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Oct 3, 2012
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