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Are Newspapers Greener than Websites?

An interesting little controversy has popped up in the last few weeks. It all started with Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED and inventor of The Long Tail, telling the world that the hard copy of his magazine is greener than the online version.

Now, not to cialis delivery in 5 days or less be too much of a skeptic, but the hard copy of WIRED obviously makes more money than the online version, so it's not surprising that Anderson would promote it. But leaving that aside, his logic goes like this: Magazines and Newspapers Sequester Carbon!

Which, in a manner of best price for viagra speaking, they do. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the air, then the paper industry processes it into paper, and then we lock that carbon away in landfills. So it makes perfect sense until you add in the clear-cutting of Canadian forests, toxic chemicals used to process and bleach the paper, and all of the fossil fuels necessary to power the processing and distribute the paper where it needs to go.

Now a study (PDF) has been released that actually gives numbers to Anderson's argument. And, at first glance, it looks a bit damning. Even taking into account all of the energy used to process and distribute paper, the numbers seem to show that newspapers produce less carbon than websites by simple virtue of not needing power during viewing.

Unfortunately the Sweedish study still does not take into account the environmental effects of clear-cutting forests or releasing toxins in bleaching and recycling paper, only the viagra and three day delivery carbon effects. And, what's worse, they seem to have some ridiculous numbers on the energy use of home computers. How about 160 watts for your computer and 120 for your screen? I don't know about you, but I have a pretty high-end system that pulls about 100 watts total, including peripherals and the screen. Of course, those numbers plummet further if you're reading on a laptop or PDA, as many now are. Maybe the study was done back when people will still using CRT monitors.

In any case, I think this points to a troubling trend in environmental accounting. The focus on carbon and global warming has made everything oh-so-simple to pfizer viagra cheap calculate. And as long as we don't worry about any of those old, passe elements of environmentalism (toxic pollution, habitat loss, etc) then we can see the answers clear as day.

Unfortunately, that's now how the Earth works. Global warming isn't the only environmental problem we face, and I'm tired of people who pretend like it is. But one thing remains clear, using electrons only gets cleaner as our world adopts renewables and generic viagra from canada computers and generic levitra for sale servers become more efficient. The logging industry, it seems, isn't planning on stopping the clear-cutting any time soon.

Spotted at Slate

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Comments (11)Add Comment
agreed hank
written by andy flessa, February 26, 2008
computers certainly are a more green alternative to the canadian pharmacy levitra traditional paper means - i completely agree. there are so many more fossil factors pulling at the printed word than at computers.

a totally overlooked issue is how the electricity to run the computer is 5 mg original brand cialis obtained! for example if your electricity is gained from a responsible and renewable resource (ig solar) then the the environmental impact from reading at your pc is reduced to almost nothing (at least at the readers end)!
In defense of paper.
written by rob, February 26, 2008
A per head calculation for global impact isn't strictly accurate.
As in my experience magazines and newspapers are often read by two, or more people, which effectively halves the impact.
Also, the study didn't take into account the ongoing energy and material costs, involved in storing e-mags on servers for years. As masses of redundant data is stored for ever, for internet use.
While I agree... one comment is flawed
written by Dustin Scott Reimer, February 26, 2008
While I agree with you mostly.. something you said is not entirely accurate... most people I know still do use CRT monitors and most companies still use CRT monitors.. I used to work for a giant call center and that building had at least 900 workstations.. all CRT monitors.. people aren't adopting LCD as quickly as we would like to think
written by def, February 27, 2008
CRTs are better for graphic designers.
written by smith, February 27, 2008
As masses of redundant data is nerver stored for ever, for internet use.
You are guilty of the same problem
written by Bill, February 27, 2008
I just wanted to point out that you are guilty of the simplification to viagra professional make things only about carbon. Remember your rant about paper vs. plastic claiming that paper was better? All that you compared was the carbon content. Not trying to rag on you or anything, just wanted to point that out.

Nice article.
lots of things neglected
written by metis, February 27, 2008
by you and canadian pharmacy them. i.e. i use a very high powered computer to surf because it's my desktop adn i need that much power for work. my local newspaper uses mostly recylcled pulp, from local sources, so there's not a lot of extra transport costs there, but every network node between me and a website uses power, as well as all of my phone line for dsl, dsl modem, router, and server. when i read the paper online i use well in excess of viagra dosage 500W, but when i read the newspaper i use... well... zero iv'e got a nice sunlit window i read in. it's delivered by a kid on a bike, and prior to that by an reasonably efficient set of nodes to minimize transportation costs.
written by Carl Foner, February 27, 2008
Having worked in the publishing industry, I find this a very interesting discussion. There are so many factors to take into account, which will be different based on the specifics of each situation. So I'm not arguing one side or the other, but a few comments:

The study does actually take into account toxicity issues, not just CO2.

Toxicity is actually very important when you think about the cialis en mexico computers used to read an online version of the paper. Granted, they have other uses besides just reading the paper, but without the computers, you couldn't read it online.

There was a similar study done on the effects of downloading a CD versus buying it in the store. IIRC, downloading ended up being better, unless you then end up burning a physical copy.

And if you read the conclusion to the study it says that using a "tablet e-paper" device or reading for 10 minutes per day online has less impact than reading the printed version. But reading it 30 minutes per day online has a similar impact to reading the printed version (sometimes more, sometimes less).
this is try it gay viagra complicated
written by complicated, February 27, 2008
I think this is not the point to argue. Websites aren't going away, but newspapers are downsizing and will eventually cease paper printing.

The key is minimizing power use of electronics. The 8 watt linux "system" featured on this website a while back is a good example of where we should be heading. We aren't going to stop the advance of technology, so we better learn to use it and it's needs more wisely.
written by matt, February 27, 2008
Great post. My wife and I were talking about this very topic a short time ago. It seems pretty clear that neither option is completely clean, but it still feels like print publications will always have a higher 'earth cost'. Resources, energy, distribution and waste all have to add up to being, as we say, less 'green'.

I suppose I should dig into the PDF a little deeper.
written by Joel, February 28, 2008
The carbon that comes out of landfills is mostly methane. Some of this is re-captured and used to generate electricity, but most of it ends up acting as a very powerful greenhouse gas.

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