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Old 02-16-2011, 01:22 AM   #1
tomsem
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Will Ebooks Jeopardize the Carbon Reduction Goals of the Book Industry?

http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/02/...omment-page-1/
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:52 AM   #2
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Nice for an awareness piece, though lacking in useful detail.

Though, as the article suggests, specific numbers are hard to come by, it is understood that a single reader can displace many books, so it is only required to meet or exceed that number to be more carbon efficient. The article does suggest that, with the iPad, that number is 32.4 books.

Add magazines and newspapers to the mix, and it shouldn't be hard to exceed book displacement over the lifetime of the device.

Most likely, Godelnick hasn't considered the role of smaller devices like smartphones, which have a much smaller carbon footprint, and therefore a smaller books displacement.

And finally, the article does not assume the devices themselves are recyclable, something which impacts the carbon footprint beyond manufacture . If a consumer is really interested in being green, they can buy devices that are as recyclable as possible, and make sure they are disposed of properly.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:34 AM   #3
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The big flaw is the assumption that people who don't read would buy ebook readers. That's kind of like assuming that people who don't drive would buy cars. I'm sure there are some (they hire drivers) and I've even met one, but they're a trivial percentage of the car-using ecosystem. If your typical ebook reader needs to read 32 books for break-even, that's not even three books a month for a year. Even if we were to figure two books a month (it's more than that for me, and sometimes two books a day) I've already gone beyond that point on mine. (when we moved, we brought about two cubic yards of books ... that's after winnowing; it nearly sprained the P.O.D.S. forklift when they unloaded our container from the truck) So while his carbon footprint estimate may be correct, his estimate for the actual use of an ebook reader is, I think, wildly incorrect. In terms of hours of use per day, I use my 505 more than my car.
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Old 02-17-2011, 11:34 AM   #4
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Complaints aside, I'm always talking about crap like this with people but I am rarely believed.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:24 PM   #5
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The big flaw is the assumption that people who don't read would buy ebook readers...
I didn't get that assumption: Why would anyone do that, and why would anyone else base their data on such a silly idea?

These assumptions, as far as I can tell, are based on the idea that people who DO consume print industry products will switch from print to digital. The only assumption I got is that if the people who switched read more than the breakeven point of books digitally, they'll ease the carbon footprint of reading.

And since their assumptions don't really figure in magazines and newspapers, switching those people to digital would derive more carbon savings.
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
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This article is a bit too narrow in its focus. All it talks about is the iPad and carbon footprint. It doesn't discuss other ebook readers, or other environmental factors.

For example, one organization did an analysis a few years ago of the Kindle's environmental impact (http://cleantech.com/news/4867/clean...-positive-envi ). They found that after the first year of use, a Kindle saves approximately 168kg of carbon dioxide emissions. So roughly speaking, the Kindle itself is equal to about 15 paper books and the iPad equal to 30 -- and that's only for reading purposes.

There's also the question of other environmental impact. Another study (http://www.ecolibris.net/book_industry_footprint.asp) from 2008 pointed out that in the US alone, the book industry chewed through 1.5 billion metric tons of paper; that most of this paper is from virgin and other non-sustainable forests; that in 2006, nearly 1 billion books were printed but unsold.

One thing to keep in mind about these devices -- and a lot of others, like cars -- is that the manufacturing itself constitutes most of its carbon footprint. For example:



So don't buy it if you don't need it. And when you don't need it, try to make sure someone else uses it after you're done with it.

Ebooks aren't a free lunch in terms of environmental impact. However environmentally ebooks are a big win in general, and especially for eInk, which uses fewer materials and less power.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:07 PM   #7
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Wow. iPad recycling sucks eggs. Of course, it isn't much better with a lot of other pieces of HW. Obviously an area that needs a lot a lot of development across the board.

Another thing about the assumption: It assumes consumers have to buy a device to read, as opposed to already having a device that can read, as well as do other things. Those who bought a smartphone or PDA for many uses, then turned it to reading as well, made it more efficient by substituting for more printed products (the same can be said for the iPad). Or, you could assume the carbon footprint of my cellphone is already balanced out by the other tasks to which I put it (making calls, balancing my checkbook, keeping track of my schedule, giving me directions, replacing a PDA, allowing me to edit documents, giving me web access, etc, etc) and therefore has 0 carbon footprint to compare to a printed book... I only have to read 1 book to make breakeven.

Which says a lot about assumptions in general, when you think about it...
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:20 PM   #8
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Wow. iPad recycling sucks eggs.
Are you referring to the 1 percent emissions from recycling an iPad? Does recycling other electronics have significantly lower emissions than 1 percent?
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:35 PM   #9
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Are you referring to the 1 percent emissions from recycling an iPad? Does recycling other electronics have significantly lower emissions than 1 percent?
Y'know, you're right, that's my bad... I was looking at that graph in another way: How much effort put into recycling the product (or a part of its production), which can be small if the product is essentially not recycled.

But as you point out, the graph is probably meant to suggest that recycling an entire iPad only creates 1% emissions... which, to me, still sounds low... unless the other processes are really so much worse than you might expect.

A lot of electronics production is still rife with waste, excesses and inefficiencies that artificially inflate a product's carbon impact. Some manufacturers are voluntarily cleaning up their acts, but many others (taking advantage of local legal loopholes and lesser standards) can use a lot of improvement.

Cleaning up production would go a long way towards lowering the breakeven point between print books produced and device usage.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:03 PM   #10
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Another thing about the assumption: It assumes consumers have to buy a device to read, as opposed to already having a device that can read, as well as do other things. Those who bought a smartphone or PDA for many uses, then turned it to reading as well, made it more efficient by substituting for more printed products (the same can be said for the iPad).

Well, the article is basically specious. The overwhelming majority of people who buy a reader will read enough books on it to more than make up for the ones who don't. And you're exactly right, a lot of us use other devices. (I wonder if I can sell carbon credits for all the books I read on my phone?)

As for using an iPad as an example, I can't image that there are very many people out there who bought an iPad for the sole purpose of reading books.

Any way you look at it, unless a massive number of people begin buying dedicated readers and only reading a few books on them, ebooks should contribute to a substantial reduction in carbon emissions in the publishing industry.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:38 PM   #11
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(I wonder if I can sell carbon credits for all the books I read on my phone?)
Oh, if only..!

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As for using an iPad as an example, I can't image that there are very many people out there who bought an iPad for the sole purpose of reading books.

Any way you look at it, unless a massive number of people begin buying dedicated readers and only reading a few books on them, ebooks should contribute to a substantial reduction in carbon emissions in the publishing industry.
Agreed... then the industry can stop producing books that will only be returned to be burned or landfilled, and their carbon footprint can take another good hit.
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