The Hidden Cost of Books - thursday 2006-03-16 1315 last modified 2006-03-16 1315
Categories: Daily Grind
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I picked up a copy of The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul Hawken, the basic premise of which is that our commercial system is inherently designed to wear down the global stock of resources with no thought put to replenishment. I strongly agree with the sentiment and look forward to an interesting read on what he suggests we do about it, but while I was perusing the librarian's metadata contained within to figure out whether the cover was based on an Andy Goldsworthy piece (it is), I ran across this little footnote:

The author and publisher have agreed to each donate a sum equal to the cost of planting one tree for every tree consumed in the production of this book to the Earth Island Institute, or a similar such nonprofit organization dedicated to forestry preservation.

It is most ironic that a book whose subject very much revolves around the hidden costs of modern day business and for which I would gladly pay has a hidden cost of supporting a group I presently consider tantamount to eco-terrorists, having painted them only a few posts ago as a more extreme version of the Sierra Club.

It's a tangled web out there. Everybody's a special interest watching out for other special interests - apparently the watchers are all watching each other. Paul Hawken leads the Natural Capital Insitute which appears to have friendly ties with EII which in turn is villified by the food industry and conservative political party interests such as the Capital Resarch Center. I haven't even begun to dig. So I'm not sure whether I feel like returning this book or not. I said not too long ago that it was to our advantage that all the watchers are publishing dirt on one another. But I think I'd rather have the data and make my own determinations on who I can live with supporting and who I'd rather not than try to sift through all the hidden biases out there.

I need better data. Again.

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