Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Books burn up the world

I must disseminate this. Gill obviously had such fun writing it, and if I were as exposed as I suppose he is to the New Righteous, I would be saying similar things.

But let me tell you, you Peruvian-hatted puritan apostles of grassy nihilism, the single hottest problem facing the planet is not global warming, but the viciously smug fundamentalist prohibitionists of the green movement. Those wholemealy-mouthed ecologists, who devoutly wish to reduce everyone else’s existence to a self-righteous nose-drip probity that never moves more than four miles from the communal yurt, never eats anything that hasn’t been grown in the communal dung and never thinks anything that isn’t collectively miserabilist, are going to destroy life as we know it faster than an equator of traffic jams, a continent of unlagged lofts and a squadron of circling jumbos.

As he descends from High Dudgeon, he points out something that I had never thought of.

Do you know how many books are published in this country every year? Think of a figure, double it and times by your age: 206,000. More than any other country in the world. America vomits out 172,000. Oman, by comparison, publishes seven; Niger, five. The total number of books published in 1996 was 1,170,620. That’s new books. And it’s an underestimate. Given an average print run of, say, 5,000, that makes about 5.85 billion books a year. Each costs about £1.30 to make. How much cash is that? How many trees is that? How much trapped CO2 released back into the atmosphere? How much bleach and chemicals? How much power to run plant, dyes and glues and packaging and marketing? How much transport? How much effort?

But, of course, there is no end to this. Every activity we do contributes to global warming, especially mouthing off about it. For the next decade, anyone overtaken by the need to be trenchant will be able to turn on you, sneer half way up his (or her) nose, and spit, "Do you realise...Do you have any idea ... of the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by people travelling to spend Christmas with their families? By lighting up their Christmas trees? By baking their turkeys? [Insert others according to taste and mood]"

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