Friday, April 9, 2010

Life Cycle Analysis

This NPR piece, Sizing Up Your Green Footprint, is about how to buy consumer products with smaller carbon footprints. The example they use is reading books on an Ipad rather than buying actual books. It may seem better to use an Ipad, but when factoring in all the costs of actually making the Ipad, you'd have to read a lot of e-books before you come out ahead.

I liked this comment, though.

When comparing the costs of books and Ipad, I’m curious if Daniel has factored in the cost of building, insuring, heating, cooling, carpeting, etc… of all the space needed for books and libraries over a period of the life of each book. I’m also curious if he has factored in the transportation of books now, and the several other instances they will change hands in the future? Also, the Ipad isn’t just a book, it also does what many computers do, but with less weight, and I’m guessing, with less energy. A better comparison would probably be with a digital reader using digital paper.

Posted by Heath, on April 7th, 2010 at 11:22 AM

Another thing is that it's hard to compare unlike things. When calculating ecological impact of products we try to put a number on things, whether it be carbon or dollars. However, it may be that cutting down trees for virgin pulp causes more damage than just the carbon sequestration lost. A major challenge is doing analysis with different units.

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