Editor's Note: ‘Green’ Change Is Upon Us
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
As we put this issue to bed, Virgin Atlantic became the first commercial airline to fly using a percentage of biofuel. Virgin Atlantic execs said the effort was a step toward reducing the airline industry’s carbon footprint. Some environmental critics called the effort a publicity stunt, arguing that the benefits of using biofuel would be quickly wiped out by growth in the airline industry, and the amount of resources needed to support the use of biofuel on a widespread basis would, in fact, cause more harm than good. According to an article on SmartPlanet.com, “… as well as costing more, critics have said biodiesel can, in fact, exacerbate the impact on the environment—leading to monoculture farming, rises in food price as crops displace the growing of staple foods and, with greater fertiliser use, increased carbon emissions.”
Many reports cited environmental advocates suggesting that Virgin instead should support America’s Climate Security Act—legislation aimed at capping carbon emissions. In December 2007, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the bill, and it is slated to be considered by the full Senate this year.
What does this have to do with the publishing industry? A great deal. Climate change is on the minds of consumers, politicians and government agencies, and every industry that emits harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As you’ll read in the feature “The Push for a ‘Greener’ Industry” (page 30), the paper industry—of which publishing is a major constituent—not only is a major consumer of trees, but also ranks fourth among manufacturers for carbon-dioxide emissions.
A Model in the Book Publishing Industry
A “green” movement has already gained serious momentum in the past two years in the book publishing industry, with almost 160 book publishing companies signing on to an industry “Treatise on Responsible Paper Use.” The treatise set goals for improving the social and ecological footprint of the book publishing industry and was developed by a leadership council of publishers, mills, printers and merchants, among others. Signatories to the treatise have committed to work to significantly change the book industry’s impact on the environment. In addition, four major publishing houses—Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and Thomas Nelson—have announced significant corporate environmental policies, including committing to specific goals for substantially increasing their use of recycled-content paper.