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Old 05-27-2024, 06:52 AM   #1
John F
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Article: "What’s better for the climate: A paper book, or an e-reader?"

"What’s better for the climate: A paper book, or an e-reader?"

https://www.npr.org/2024/05/25/12529...kindle-climate
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Old 05-27-2024, 07:53 AM   #2
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It's a pointless question as there are so many more things with a hugely bigger impact.


Which will kill more people: A Nerf* gun or a waterpistol?


[*fires foam sticks]

Last edited by Quoth; 05-27-2024 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 05-27-2024, 06:06 PM   #3
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"It's not cut and dried," said Mike Berners-Lee, a professor of sustainability at Lancaster Environment Centre in the United Kingdom, of the comparative climate friendliness of digital versus print reading.

Berners-Lee, the author of The Carbon Footprint of Everything, said the average e-reader has a carbon footprint of around 80 pounds.

"This means that I've got to read about 36 small paperback books-worth on it before you break even," he said.
lol, okay

I still remember seeing a silly claim that eReaders were worse for the environment, but they based it on someone replacing their eReader every year (!).

Last edited by ownedbycats; 05-27-2024 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 05-27-2024, 07:07 PM   #4
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Could have been a little more interesting if they did some analysis of some other harmful impacts: waste from chemical preparation of paper, electronics materials in landfills, ...
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Old 05-28-2024, 01:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John F View Post
"What’s better for the climate: A paper book, or an e-reader?"

https://www.npr.org/2024/05/25/12529...kindle-climate
So the entire ereader, which lasts years, has the impact of maybe a hundred miles or so of driving. I won't be losing any sleep over it.
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Old 05-28-2024, 04:36 AM   #6
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My ereader(s) have saved maybe 250,000 pages* of print because for over 10 years I "print an ebook" instead of paper.

But most people in the West mowing the lawn, or commuting or eating x3 meat than they need, or using an electric dryer instead of a line is far more carbon impact.

As I wrote earlier, it's one of the last comparisons to worry about.

How far have the 36 paperbacks to be shipped? Are they printed in China?

EDIT
* May have miscalculated. But I used to print loads of technical stuff and I've proof read about 900 novels over last 11 years. I used to buy a lot of books too.
Replaced all tungsten and halogen lighting finally.
Replaced petrol lawnmower with corded electric and cut very much less often.
Retrofitted double glazing which is a once off carbon cost dramatically reducing emissions and costs.
Reduced car from 2.5 l huge diesel -> 2.0 huge petrol -> 1.0 compact petrol and dramatically reduced mileage (though whe changed to km here).
Reduced server consumption from 500W to 50W
Replaced all 19" CRTs (we had 5) and 3 x CRT TVs.
Stopped buying paper books.

Last edited by Quoth; 05-28-2024 at 04:49 AM.
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Old 05-28-2024, 04:46 AM   #7
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My Readers have defiantly been better for the environment as I've not bought many pBooks.
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Old 05-28-2024, 06:25 AM   #8
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My Readers have defiantly been better for the environment as I've not bought many pBooks.
I like their attitude!
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Old 05-28-2024, 07:57 AM   #9
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Reduced car from 2.5 l huge diesel -> 2.0 huge petrol -> 1.0 compact petrol and dramatically reduced mileage (though we changed to km here).
Oh, you're trying to make me feel bad about my 7.4 liter engine?
In my defence, I try to drive only 20 miles a week.
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Old 05-28-2024, 08:33 AM   #10
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Oh, you're trying to make me feel bad about my 7.4 liter engine?
In my defence, I try to drive only 20 miles a week.
Solar panels and an electric car would help the environment.
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Old 05-28-2024, 08:40 AM   #11
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Solar panels and an electric car would help the environment.
Well, I do have 600 Watt of solar panels on the roof of the vehicle.
I haven't paid for electricity in 8 years.
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Old 05-28-2024, 09:44 AM   #12
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Oh, you're trying to make me feel bad about my 7.4 liter engine?
In my defence, I try to drive only 20 miles a week.
Sounds like a vintage car or a truck.

But some 1950s 500cc UK 4 stroke bikes used much less petrol than a 1970s 125cc 2 stroke Kawasaki.
Putt ... ... Putt ... ... Putt
vs
Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing ding-ding-ding

Traversing 200 yards. Maybe 50 rpm vs 8,000 rpm?
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Old 05-28-2024, 10:36 AM   #13
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We discussed this previously:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...1&postcount=11

The vast majority of trees which are cut for paper pulp are quick-growing loblolly pines which will be re-planted almost immediately, larger, older, nicer trees are usually cut for lumber, so one should be able to let the 8.85 pounds figure stand for paper products w/o concern for deforestation.

Here's a page which indicates most CO_2 production is for energy:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html

And here's a page which indicates that CO_2 production is a much larger problem for the manufacturing of electronics:
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49730
w/ a ratio of 12 to 1 for energy usage to weight, so my PRS-505 weighs roughly 9 ozs., so presumably required 108 ounces of fuel to manufacture (on-going energy usage is not considered)
http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/420f05001.htm
gives us a figure of 19.4 pounds of CO_2 per gallon of gasoline which equals roughly 16.36875 pounds of CO_2 to make the ebook reader.

So getting two books for the Sony should make it roughly break even, and each printed book beyond that which is not purchased should result in a net reduction of CO_2 emissions, since the energybulletin.net page indicates that the embodied energy usage for electronics is much greater than the lifetime usage.
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Old 05-28-2024, 01:02 PM   #14
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There is one scenario in which e-readers are consistently worse for the environment:

https://xkcd.com/750/
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Old 05-28-2024, 01:08 PM   #15
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There is one scenario in which e-readers are consistently worse for the environment:

https://xkcd.com/750/
And if you hurl your ereader against the wall in annoyance over a book you're reading, you'll need to buy a new ereader, which is bad for environment. A paper book would usually survive your hissy fit.
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