Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 5.4.18
Just Outside Washington


Books, in a selfie way

Our reading group has a couple of classics on our upcoming list to read: Utopia by Thomas More and Demosthenes, which is one of Plutarch's biographical sketches. Neither of these is in our library.

Being classics, there must be thousands of each of these in print and surly Second Story Books, as a second hand book warehouse, must have them. And, buying used copies would be recycling and that helps the environment. Besides, who wants to go on-line to Amazon, go through the password stuff, and buy new paperbacks. Further, I had a store credit resulting from some old books we took to Second Story Books a month or so ago.

I got into the car and drove to Rockville, MD, which is where Second Story Books is located. A young lady named, Joy, assisted me and found a very nice Harvard Library edition of Plutarch's Lives for $11; bargain. She also found Utopia in their rare book collection; it was $120, too pricy for me.

Joy pointed me to the stacks and gave me some pointers on where to look and told me I was now on my own to find Utopia and one other book that was on my list. After an hour or so, it was fun but unsuccessful; I gave up, checked out, and headed home to deal with Amazon.

It then occurred to me that my choice of Second Story Books was not the most environmentally friendly approach. Second Story Books is 20 miles from our house making the round trip 40 miles. Using the EPA, if can we believe them, figures of 4.67 metric tons CO2E/vehicle /year and an average mileage per year of 11,443, my trip emitted 16.32 kilograms of CO2. That is a lot less than that produced by the activity necessary to put one 8 ounce steak on the plate -- 1,600 kilograms of CO2. However, the delivery through UPS of my fall-back purchase through Amazon was zero net CO2 emissions.

"How can that be?" you ask. UPS says that it is because of carbon offsetting. That means that for every metric ton of CO2 a package produces in transportation, an equivalent amount of CO2 is saved. UPS says that it purchases a verified emission reduction project somewhere else in the world. UPS has purchased CO2 emission offsets through the CarbonNeutral Company that came from landfill methane capture and forest planting and preservation. Well, that's a relief!

You say: "Wait just a minute; what about the emissions to make those new books?" Well, I guess that emissions resulting from printing the two books are less than one 8 ounce steak. You really wouldn't want me to become a VEGAN would you?