Grass ain't green

You may have heard about a Robert and Brenda Vale’s book Time to Eat the Dog?: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living in which they claim that dogs have a greater (negative) environmental impact than SUVs and/or read a criticism of it (which itself contains flaws) ((I haven’t read the book.)). I’d long wondered about things such as dog pedicures, hotels, vaccinations, etc. and someone had already crunched some numbers to give a ballpark figure. After watching a neighbour turn on his sprinkler system while it was raining last week, I thought I’d finally do a calculation I’d similarly meant to do for a long time: look at the environmental impact of a well-manicured lawn. As it turns out, someone has again already done the calculation. However, one thing from that page really stood out: “Lawn mowing contributes 5% of the total United States GHG’s, according to the EPA“.

So the next time you think that green lawns are better than concrete jungles, just remember that each sliver of manicured grass is like a vampire fang extending out of the earth, draining precious resources.

More on Paper vs. Screen: The Creative Process

I thought that, as a reasonably quick reader and a user of a laptop that sips 8W of power while in use ((With the screen turned low and with wi-fi turned off.)), it would almost always make sense for me to work with content electronically (To Print or Not to Print?).  While sitting in a meeting, it struck me that, on an almost daily basis, there are pages of text with which I spend more than an hour.  I was, of course, thinking about writing my depth paper.

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iPad? How bad?

Update: So it looks like my estimates for the carbon dioxide emissions were way off.  I guess iPad’s components must be particularly carbon-unfriendly per unit mass; if I had to speculate, it’s due to a higher component weight to frame weight than on the computers considered here.  Updated results at the end of this post; you can follow along using the original text, substituting in the new values for manufacturing.  It looks like my estimates for power adapter efficiency and power consumption are pretty much spot on, though.

Jorge Aranda tells me his brother is considering one of those newfangled iPads to reduce his environmental footprint:

His reasoning is that it will help him pay for “content” without damaging the Earth –specifically, he’s talking about reading the newspaper, magazines, and e-books in the iPad, instead of buying them in paper version.

I suspected, and told him, that on the whole this would probably mean an *increase* in environmental damage, rather than a decrease. He’s not convinced.

Jorge then adds the question that prompted the creation of this blog: “Who is right?”

So will buying an iPad to replace print materials reduce carbon emissions or just result in more iWaste?

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To Print or Not to Print?

During the summer, I was musing on Vannevar Bush’s ideas presented in his paper As We May Think.  Having the attention span of a…  where was I?  Oh, yes.  So my mind wandered to thinking about by how much our carbon footprint could be reduced by switching to a paperless office.  The answer surprised me and I mentioned it idly to my research supervisor, Steve Easterbrook.  He suggested I publish it on a blog and we discussed the creation of a software tool to help present the argument more clearly.  I’ve finally worked up the nerve to start up this blog to do the former and the latter is in the works.  So here is my first post detailing how much carbon dioxide is emitted by reading a page of text on a computer instead of printing it out.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your stopwatches!

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