Why "E" Isn't Free
Posted By:  SpringDot ®
Thursday, May 24, 2012

 

Why "E" Isn't Free

 
A surprising number of people believe that not printing on paper saves trees. While being a responsible user of natural resources is important, the reality is that the paper and forest industry grow and harvest trees specifically for paper making. These managed forests better serve the environment through carbon sequestration and cleansing of the water aquifer.

Print creates a demand for paper, which in turn creates a demand for trees and managed forests, all the while holding development or other less environmentally friendly uses of land at bay. It may seem counter-intuitive to you, but it’s true.

A surprising number of people believe the e-devices (smart phones, iPads, laptops, net books, etc) populating the modern world have little to no impact on the environment. The fact that it’s against the law in 50 states and the District of Columbia to toss your cellphone in the trash ought to tell you something—lithium batteries are hazardous waste.

Unfettered access to the on-line world sucks up a huge amount of energy. It requires bricks and mortar, air conditioning, electricity, computers and huge data centers operating 24/7/365. The increasing use of fossil fuels including coal and petroleum to provide the electricity for data centers is growing 24% a year. “E” is not free.

While some take newspapers, magazines and book manufacturers to task for not quickly adopting new forms of content delivery such as e-readers, the argument that paper is used to create scarcity conveniently overlooks these facts: only 83% of US homes have computers, fewer still broadband access and e-readers are largely out of financial reach of many families and especially children.

Paper, in the form of books, magazines, and newspapers are readily available and free in public and school libraries, at reasonable prices on newsstands, and if you’re not too fussy, on seats in subways, bus stations, and coffee shops. Paper as a metaphor for scarcity or the means to slowing idea creation seems wildly outdated.

E-devices are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean paper or print must go. If you love breathing fresh air and drinking clean water, assuring a demand for print, paper and trees may be the best and most beneficial idea yet. It could likely turn out that print is the renewable way a responsible world communicates.
 
 




 
 
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