Tuesday 3 June 2008

Wood free?

My eye was caught by this report on LibDem Voice about the first leaflet put out by the Conservatives in Henley. Interesting how "outraged of Crewe" has turned into "local of Henley". It linked to a piece in ThameNews about the (very local) Green candidate, Mark Stevenson.

At the bottom of that piece Mark is quoted as saying, "But we have to be charitable about this", Mark continued, "it could just be a stupid mistake made in a hurry. After all 'intouch' also declared itself to be printed on woodfree pulp sourced from sustainable forests. Just how sustainable are woodfree forests? I wonder."

Well, I wondered what "woodfree paper" is, so I googled it. And I discovered that it's made from, er, wood.

Wikipedia explains.

And Siemens illustrates with a very clear, and, I must say, beautifully constructed interactive diagram. Siemens are also honest about the energy use involved in the production.

So it's a case of vote blue, get unsubstantiated claims about not using wood. But, before anybody else says it, I shudder to think how many LibDem leaflets might say the same thing.

You can get actual woodfree paper. Elephant dung is of course the latest thing, though questions arise as to economies of scale. I do wonder about the economics of rearing large herds of elephants in order to employ vast armies of, probably, non-Europeans to go poop-scooping behind them as they crash their way through what's left of the world's savannah. (Elephantdung.co.uk is "down for restructuring" at the moment. I thought that only happened to government departments.)

You can get paper that's not made from wood, but is instead made from other carbon forms, such as cereals or bananas. As far as I can see, that doesn't really make any difference, unless trees take a lot more CO2 out of the atmosphere than cereals (must check that - but if I remember rightly trees respire, cereals don't or something like that). It's still giving a large chunk of the planet over to a massive and polluting form of capitalist production. But can you beat a leaflet for getting the message over at election time?


Ross Harrison said...

All plants, and all living things,respire: by definition (you have to respire to be a living thing, remember MRS NERG?)

Old trees however respire more than photosynthesise, releasing net CO2 into the atmosphere, as far as I know cereals and herbs (like bananas) photosynthesise more than they respire. Hence cutting old trees for paper is more eco-friendly than cereals, unless you factor in other CO2 emissions involved in growing and cutting them down.

Rob Parsons said...

Thanks for that; I did the science recently but it didn't stick. I haven't come across Mrs Nerg before, but I googled her, and she's clearly a very useful lady.