Save Trees, Use More Paper

English: Third generation Amazon Kindle

Image via Wikipedia

Earlier this year, Kevin Periera of G4 told Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, the Amazon Kindle “is the savior to many, many forests in the future.” [Read it here]

As a licensed forester and certified treehugger, I don’t think so.

Trees don’t get cut down when you use electronic stuff, right? Well they may be, forever.

The argument that finding and using alternatives to wood will save trees ignores basic economics. Follow the money. Basic economics teaches the ‘law’ of supply and demand. That is the value of a product is based on its availability and the demand for the product. If people don’t use wood products, more wood is available, and the value (price) of wood falls. The result? More lovely forests? Woodland creatures frolicking contentedly? Not quite. Timber companies sell off their timberland and forests are converted to other uses. Most of the deforestation happening in the world is caused by forests being converted to farming.

The idea that going paperless will save trees is counter-productive. Worse, it may be quite hazardous to our planet’s health. Well, I’m a forester. You’d expect me to say something stupid like that, right? I’m not the only one. There are hidden costs to what is often termed green technology.

Tomorrow, if it’s not grown, it’s mined.

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