We live in environmentally uncertain times, and scientists and governments around the world are asking people to make smarter decisions in every aspect of their lives, including in the ways that they consume media. We’ve been printing physical media for hundreds of years, but with the invention of such devices as e-readers and other similar technologies, people are beginning to steer away from older forms of media.
The question remains, however: which choice is better for the environment? There are proponents on both sides of the argument, which makes it difficult to find a clear answer, so let’s break down the information that is readily available.
The Carbon Argument
One of the biggest problems we’re facing at the moment is the increasing global temperatures, and one of the main culprits is carbon dioxide. While the notion of the “carbon footprint” is a lot more complex than most people realise, there are some numbers available.
For instance, purchasing an e-reader will put around 170 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. On the other hand, buying a book contributes around 7.5 kilograms. That means it only would take around 2 dozen books before we see the benefits of an e-reader.
The Physical Media Argument
Of course, carbon dioxide is just one metric of many, and it’s a part of why traditional media may never die. Many people like to point out the kind of mining operations needed to produce the materials to build a modern e-reader. Lithium-ion is the most popular type of mobile battery in use today, but the lithium mines needed to meet global demand cause enormous amounts of environmental destruction.
The measurement of carbon dioxide does not necessarily take into account the runoff from large mining operations and how it can affect underground aquifers and other sources of water, like rivers. It’s also important to think about the disposal of these machines when they no longer function.
The Argument For Electronics
While the mines are bad, there are also hundreds of millions of hectares of industrial timber plantations worldwide. Much of this is land that should be returned to nature, especially considering the increasing rates of global deforestation.
These monoculture plantations remove most of the biodiversity of an area and are often sprayed with potent biocides to keep pests at bay. These plantations are where the majority of the world’s books come from, and while they’re technically renewable, many forestry practices are unsustainable in the long term. Modern electronic devices are much more multifunctional – you can use them for reading; watching videos, playing a variety of games, ranging from text-based adventures or something more enthralling like games on Canadian casino sites – whatever the case may be, books don’t have quite as many uses.
So, Which Do You Choose?
It’s a difficult choice to make with all the relevant information but considering that a single e-reader can hold many thousands of books, and that there are some environmentally-friendly e-readers on the market, it makes a lot more sense to use this piece of technology.