Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A perfect 10: celebrating 10 years online

The fact is, we probably saved quite a few more trees beyond the 287,427 number above. Over the years, established print magazines in our markets found it very hard to compete with us. We offer information free, online, and available 24/7. As has been shown over and over the last 10 years, subscribers almost always choose free online resources over paid subscriptions. And, since we're not paying for all that printing and postage, we can pass that savings on to our advertisers. With a limited advertising budget, many advertisers have chosen our more cost-effective offerings over the much higher costs of advertising in print publications.

Without a doubt, the competitive nature of Internet online publications like ours has had a clear impact on market forces, and those market forces are also helping to save trees. By out-competing those print publications, they're no longer consuming woodlands and no longer generating toxins as a necessary side-effect of their operations.

If anyone ever argues with you about the green value of the Internet, talk about the vast numbers of trees saved. By contrast with printing, our Internet publishing is completely green. And that's not counting those terrible pollutants I alluded to in the previous process -- these are produced as a by-product of the printing process itself.

Few know that printing is one of the world's major polluting industries. The printing process releases huge amounts of toxins from oil-based inks and press chemicals into the water and air. Wood pulp paper bleaching produces dioxin, a substance so toxic the government measures it in parts per billion.

Now let's look at something called organochlorine compounds. These compounds are highly carcinogenic and are suspected to be a primary cause of cancer in women. Paper production, because it dumps organochlorines directly into the water, may well be the biggest offender. Organochlorine exposures are associated with a 4 to 10-fold increase in risk of breast cancer.

"Now it begins to make sense why Al Gore invented the Internet!"

But we didn't kill the trees and we didn't release the toxins. Instead, those 287,427 trees had the chance to live. A typical tree releases about 180 pounds of oxygen into the air per year. By factoring out how many years the trees would have lived (10% the first year, and so forth), those trees had the chance to release 284,552,730 pounds of oxygen into the air during these 10 years.

With everyone so concerned about global warming and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it's also important to realize that each tree absorbs the carbon dioxide equivalent of one ton of coal burned per year. So what's the bottom line? Our saved trees absorbed the carbon dioxide equivalent of 1,580,849 tons of coal burned.

Just by way of perspective, the typical home in America uses about 907 kilowatt hours per month, according to Union University. The typical ton of coal produces the energy equivalent of 6,150 kilowatt hours. A little math shows us that our saved trees would have reabsorbed the carbon dioxide generated from powering 10,719,097 houses for a month.