May 08, 2008

Behold the library book! A planet-cooling wonder!

You always thought the library was a good thing, right? Did you know that it has now been declared one of the Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet?

In The Vancouver Sun (May 8, 2008) Craig McInnes writes:

In a new slim volume from Sierra Club Books, science writer Eric Sorenson and the staff of the Seattlebased Sightline Institute celebrate seven ordinary things that ascend to the status of the fabled hanging gardens of Babylon in the context of climate change.

The “wonders” are all touted as antidotes to everyday activities that are poisoning the atmosphere with climate-altering greenhouse gases primarily associated with energy consumption. The villains include the car, the air conditioner, clothes dryers, factory farming and disposable products of all kinds.

The wonders represent opportunity, simple things ordinary people can make to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities, things that collectively hold the hope of surprising benefit.

The public library is a wonder because it embodies the principle of re-use. Every time a book goes through the checkout desk, the value of the paper used in its production increases. It’s one of the last bastions against our largely disposable society.


Sightline Institute explains why libraries, or more specifically, the library book can have an extraordinary impact on the fight against global warming,

The Library Book (resource conservation and reuse)

  • A typical US library prevents 250 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions each year, just from the paper it doesn’t consume.
  • The average American pays $20 in taxes a year to support libraries, but saves at least twice that by borrowing half a dozen or so free books from a library instead of buying them.
  • The most popular form of reuse currently may be the movie rental: video stores outnumber public libraries, and consumers rent three times as many DVDs as they buy
The other six planet-cooling wonders:
  1. The bicycle
  2. The ceiling fan
  3. The clothesline
  4. The condom
  5. The microchip
  6. The real tomato (locally grown food)

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