Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A book and some quotes for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day...

There are plenty of childrens' books about the environment.  One of the most interesting new ones is WORLD WITHOUT FISH by Mark Kurlansky (Workman Publishing, April 2011).

Part graphic novel, part history, part science, with section headings in a very large kid-friendly font, and lots of full-color illustrations throughout, this should appeal to today's internet-savvy readers.  Kurlansky touches on global warming, pollution, and overfishing as the three main culprits in why the coral reefs are dying.  He offers practical suggestions that kids themselves can follow.  A fun and painless way to learn.


 And now for the quotes:

"Here's what an e-reader is: a battery-operated slab... one-half inch thick, perhaps with an aluminum border, rubberized back, plastic, metal, silicon, a bit of gold, plus rare metals such as columbite-tantalite (Google it) ripped from the earth, often in war-torn Africa. To make one e-reader requires 33 pounds of minerals, plus 79 gallons of water to refine the minerals and produce the battery and printed writing."

"Then you figure that the 100 million e-readers will be outmoded in short order, to be replaced by 100 million new and improved devices."

"Here's what it takes to make a book, which... will be shared by many readers and preserved and appreciated... recycled paper, a dash of minerals, and two gallons of water. Batteries not necessary. If trees are harvested, they can be replanted."

All of the above quotes are from a PW article, "Books Without Batteries: The Negative Impacts of Technology," by Bill Henderson, April 11, 2011.  

Henderson was summarizing a New York Times article from April 4, 2011.  According to that article, "OP CHART: How Green is My I-Pad," by Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris, "The adverse health impacts [on the general public] from making one e-reader are estimated to be 70 times greater than those for making a single book."

(I urge you to click on the links and read the full articles.)

Still enjoy your e-reader?  Do you agree or disagree that e-readers are actually worse for the environment?


  1. Great one Joanne- sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to check it out.

    I read that NYT article about the IPad and saved it on my computer (ironic).
    I don't have an e-reader, but the truth is, I want the ipad.

    great post!

  2. Ha ha - love the irony!

    Oh, I can understand the lure of an ipad or an e-reader. But I'm going to resist as long as possible! The thing that gets me the most is the planned obsolescence. You buy one and it's already outdated. Just like cell phones.

    Thanks, Katharine.

  3. I'm a fence sitter when it comes to e-readers and the environment.

    My husband has a ipad, and I can't lie, it's cool. I love a book with pages but eventually ereaders will be the norm.

  4. I have an e-reader, and I love it. It's a first-generation model that has seen two new versions come out since I got it. Yet, I haven't upgraded, because it does exactly what I want it to do - let me carry around a huge stack of books to read at any time, all of them neatly packaged in a space about the size of one thin paperback. It only needs charged about once a month, if that, because it shuts down when I'm not using it, and even when active it uses very little power.

    That said, I also keep buying paper books, because I couldn't live without having an actual book in my hands most of the time, and because some books just aren't the same in e-book format, or as easily read, as they are in actual book form.

    I very much enjoy both reading experiences. I don't believe e-books and e-readers are the death of paper books. The new technology adds to the ways people can read, and I can't see much wrong with that. Besides, true bibliophiles - and there are a lot of us - will never abandon paper books. And wherever there is a need or a want, there is someone out there willing to sell us what we're after.

  5. And just to stir the pot a little, 'cause I'm evil like that:

    As for the environmental impact of e-readers vs paper books...something to ponder:

    Did Messrs. Henderson, Goleman, and Norris use computers to write their articles? Or did they use manual typewriters (Google it), or even (*gasp*) actual pen and paper?

  6. Well said, Kim! We needed someone to put it all in perspective. After all, television didn't put an end to movie theaters. And there's no reason e-readers can't peacefully coexist with paper books.

    You also made an excellent point about Henderson et al using computers to write their articles. "Manual typewriters (Google it)" Ha ha ha! Good one.

    The ONE clear advantage I can see with an e-reader is that "find" feature. I'm always leafing through the paper books I read, looking for that great quote I can almost remember.

    The main disadvantages? Breakage would be expensive. Plus, authors can't sign e-books. Yet. I'm sure someone is working on a system right this minute to allow an author to sign an e-book with some kind of stylus. But will it be the same? I think not.

  7. Brooke, does your husband let you use his ipad, ha ha?

    They are cool looking. I attended a conference last year right after the ipad first came out, and an agent had one. She was showing it off to everyone. New gadgets are always cool. But is it worth it? That's what I'm not sure about yet.


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