November 30, 2010
Did you know that a single tree can remove about one metric ton of CO2 from the air every year? However, just one Sunday's worth of newspapers requires the cutting of 500,000 trees.
Overall, we throw away approximately one billion trees worth of paper each year, and a portion of that paper is incinerated, creating more carbon emissions. The numbers become more and more compelling from there for overall paper consumption. In 2004, world paper production was equal to 359 million metric tons, emitting 74 million metric tons of CO2 in its production.
All is not lost though. As Jacques Barzun noted in 1958 in The House of Intellect, "If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age."
A recent study out of the University of California Berkeley shows that reading a newspaper electronically releases 32 to 140 times less CO2 and uses 27 times less water than reading the paper version. If we could replace all US paper newspapers with eNewspapers tomorrow, 95 million trees and 26 million tons of greenhouse gases -- equivalent to emissions from 2.9 million cars -- could be saved each year.
In short, the difference between electronic ink and printed paper could have a dramatic effect on carbon in the atmosphere in just one day. Something to consider when looking for something to read with your next morning coffee.