The USDA Wants to Expand Paper Market
by Nick McCann
WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a program aimed to expand the manufacture and trade of paper-based products.
In a proposed order, the USDA stated that the markets for certain types of paper declined by 15 percent between 2000 and 2010, and that a program is needed "to maintain and expand markets for paper and paper-based packaging."
No kidding. In the age when every email we receive bears signature "Please consider the environment before printing this email".
Governments everywhere are doing stupid things, albeit some are more stupid than the others. The question is, is it really stupid to use (more) paper? The answer is, turns out, not that black and white.
I have posted this video before. I don't know if I can ever take someone who says "I wouldn't cut down a tree for paper because I think it's a stupid. waste. of a gift of a resource" seriously. That's what this video is trying to say. It's not stupid or wasteful to cut down tree for paper, because more trees will be grown for the purpose.
But that's what Penn and Teller say. I have nothing against them but, come on, it's a TV show called Bullshit. So I turn to my favorite writer.
Consider, for example, the economic argument against paper recycling.5 People say that recycling is a way of “saving trees,” yet, in practice, it has exactly the opposite effect. Why are there so many cows in the world? Because people eat cows. Not only that, but the number of cows in the world is a precise function of the number that are eaten. If people decided to eat less beef, there would be fewer cows. Yet the same is true of trees. “Old growth” timber is not used for pulp and paper—the trees that go into making our paper are a cash crop, just like wheat and corn. So one way to increase the number of trees being planted is for us to consume more paper. Furthermore, if we dumped used paper down an old mineshaft, rather than recycling it, we would in effect be engaged in carbon sequestration: taking carbon out of the atmosphere and burying it in the ground. This is exactly what we need to be doing in order to combat global warming. So recycling paper would appear to be bad for the planet, on numerous levels. Aluminum recycling makes sense (as suggested by the fact that it is profitable). But why paper recycling?
(Joseph Heath - Economics Without Illusions)
And I read that on kindle, which I bought consciously (among other things) to reduce my paper use. Phew...
Ok, in North America and Europe, I think cash crops (not "old growth" timber) are used for making paper. There's one near Wageningen that uses recycled paper. Besides, they don't have much old forests left anyway. The argument of paper vs digital data will be more complicated if we take into account the resource used for digital data storage.
But let's talk about Indonesia. Rumor has it that Indonesian pulp and paper industries cut tropical rain forests for their production. (In Indonesia sometimes it's hard to distinguish rumors from news, so be it. Or I'm just too lazy to find a reliable reference). That's one reason to reduce paper use.
The second is, we use waaaaay too much paper for unnecessary things. I'm a government official I certainly know what I'm talking about. (But when I googled for government paper use, it came up with news about Dada Rosada. Oh why oh why?)
And the third is, well, of course not everything is worth printing :D