Paper equals dead trees?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Time and again some misguided members of the environmental movement come up with the phrase that paper books and such equal dead trees and that anything done electronically, whether books, newspapers, journals, etc., save x-amount of trees.

The truth of the matter is, however, that the less paper we use the fewer trees will be planted by the paper industry who, where it is done in the sustainable manner it should be done, has its own forests.

The often cited saved rainforest trees is another red herring as no hardwood trees are used for wood pulp for the making of paper, at least not of the rainforest kind, as they are far too hard for making paper.

There are, obviously, other fiber products that can be made into paper; originally paper was made from rags. And onto of that hemp, nettles, bamboo, etc. could be used. But that is not the point here.

The fact is that millions of trees are being planted every year in order to create paper and if paper made from wood pulp would not be used those trees simply would not be planted.

In other words, the paper industry is not necessarily a bad thing for those trees, while they grow, absorb carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up, and when the wood is made into paper, especially books which may be retained for many years, even centuries, then the carbon remains locked up in them.

In the same way that any wood products, whether house or piece of furniture made from real wood, also will serve the very same purpose.

Trees are cut down for this, as for the making of paper, but they are felled at the optimum time for, after the tree has done its growing it will no longer be a carbon sequester but a net carbon producer, and it is just before that time that forestry does the felling and then the replanting of trees.

Trees left to grow beyond the growing time, as said, will become producers of carbon dioxide rather than absorbing and storing it and when a tree is allowed to die and fall and then is allowed to rot in the woods that is worse still.

In that latter process not only the carbon that was stored in the tree is released but the process of decay also releases methane, the latter which is a much more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2.

Therefore, before people go around making statements such as that a book or a wooden table, etc., are dead trees, they better get their fact from the proper sources and do some serious thinking.

Alas, much like vegetarians and vegans who believe that animals such as cows, sheep, pigs, etc., will have such a great life should the world decide to become vegetarian or even vegan tomorrow, and are misguided, in the same way are those that believe that the world would be better without commercial forestry.

The wrong kind of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

© 2012