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Old 03-06-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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E-Book: "As the Oceans Rise" with exclusive MR coupon

Most people acknowledge that global warming poses a serious threat to the planet. In As the Oceans Rise, Chuck Tremper explores the various actions that could be taken by governments, by industry and by individuals to mitigate the effects. Of particular interest is Chapter 5 -- find an excerpt here -- where Dr. Tremper talks about the transition from printed to electronic materials, with an emphasis on e-books:

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Awareness of e-reading's benefits for the climate could accelerate adoption. Although the trees used for making paper are a renewable resource, they're being consumed more quickly than they're being replaced. As long as the total demand for all paper products, including the books, newspapers, and magazines that e-readers can eliminate, exceeds the worldwide capacity of sustainable forestry, rainforests and other precious woodlands will continue to vanish. Even though e-readers consume energy and become electronic waste, they take us in the right direction by reducing not only the demand for paper, but also the energy needed to produce and transport printed materials.
As the Oceans Rise is available in various e-book formats, including Adobe PDF (optimized for e-readers), Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT and MP3. Mr. Tremper has kindly offered MobileRead members a 10% discount; to use it enter the code 1041 at the check out.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:10 AM   #2
Jeff Duntemann
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Although I certainly accept that anthropogenic climate change is a serious problem, this quote implies that 1) we're destroying rainforests to generate paper pulp, which is nonsense--rainforests are being destroyed to convert forestland to farmland, and 2) trees are being consumed by the pulp industry more quickly than they are being replaced. This second point may be arguable, but I've seen studies showing that hardwood forests here in the US are now at a par with what they were when Europeans arrived, largely through the abandonment of marginal farmland east of the Mississippi. Biomass lost in spot fluctuations of replantable pulp forests is more than balanced by the (denser) biomass of long-lived hardwood forests.

A second issue that bears on the impact of print publishing is that where not recycled, paper most often ends up in landfills, which has the effect of pulling carbon out of the atmosphere (into which it went by combustion of fossil fuels) and sequestering it. Ebooks are not a clear ecological win over pbooks, as best I can see. Once manufactured, a pbook ceases to be a burden on the ecosphere. Ebooks require hardware readers (which have relatively high carbon and heavy-metal footprints, like all electronics) which in turn require electric power, most of which is now generated by the burning of fossil fuel.

There are a lot of places where individuals can make a difference in climate change. I seriously doubt that converting from pbooks to ebooks is one of them.
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:14 PM   #3
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Actually, if one looks at printed books as carbon sinks, they may have a net positive impact (if they're done so as to have a smaller carbon footprint in energy / emissions expended).

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Old 03-07-2008, 03:05 PM   #4
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E-reading's net benefits for the climate

Using an e-reader in place of printed materials certainly is not the most important change we can make to reduce climate change. Preserving rainforests from being cleared for agriculture and development would be even better. Switching to e-books really does produce a net benefit for the climate, though. More important, it spurs us to think about how we need to change almost everything we do to achieve sustainability.

E-books take us in the right direction because the technology has the potential to be much less damaging to the climate than printed materials. Already the e-ink systems used in many e-readers is very energy efficient because page displays don’t use power once they’re initially composed. Recharging them from solar power reduces their impact even further.

Over time, a single reader might be used to read hundreds of books and potentially thousands of newspapers and magazines. That usage not jonly displaces an enormous amount of paper production, which is environmentally damaging aside from its use of trees, it also eliminates the energy and chemicals used in transporting and storing the books, plus their ultimate disposal. It can be far less damaging than the processes needed to produce, use, and dispose of e-readers.

Converting to e-books is just one transition we need to make. For those of us who read a lot, it helps to remind us that we need to be making such transitions and doing it quickly if the planet is to remain a pleasantly inhabitable place.
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