Imagine your horror if you picked up a copy of a book on rainforests to read to your kids, intending to teach them good environmental values, and discovered that the book about rainforests was printed on dead rainforests.
Unfortunately, in many American bedrooms tonight, that horror is likely to be reality.
A report released today by Rainforest Action Network finds that a majority of the top ten U.S. children’s publishers have released at least one children’s book that tested positive for paper fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, including some books that describe the benefits of rainforest conservation.
To create the report, the San Francisco based environmental group randomly tested 30 books – three from each of the top ten children’s book publishers. Eighteen of the 30 tested, or 60 percent, contained controversial fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests. RAN believes that the test results point to a growing industry trend of printing children’s books, as well as other glossy paper books like coffee table books and textbooks on fiber that is from controversial and endangered sources.
“There are clear, workable alternatives to printing on paper that destroys the world’s last remaining rainforests,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, RAN’s Forest Campaign director who initiated the report. “The publishing industry shouldn’t tolerate printing even one book that contributes to rainforest destruction, species extinction and climate change. ”
Indonesia’s rainforests are some of the most valuable on earth, both because of their high ecological value and because of their importance to stopping climate change. The forests of Borneo, Sumatra and Papua are the only home of man’s closest relative, the orangutan, as well as the world’s smallest tiger species and countless other unique mammals, birds and plants. Not to mention, these forests provide food, shelter and livelihoods for millions of Indonesian communities, cultures that have lived in harmony with the rainforests for generations.
Not only does the destruction of these rainforests threaten these communities and species though, it threatens our climate. Worldwide, the degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests is responsible for fifteen percent of all annual greenhouse emissions. The carbon emissions resulting from Indonesia’s rapid deforestation account for up to five percent of global emissions: more than the combined emissions from all the cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains in United States. This huge carbon footprint from the destruction of forests and peatlands has made non-industrialized Indonesia the third-largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind only the U.S. and China.
Publishers can solve this problem by screening out fiber that comes from endangered forests and controversial suppliers.
You can help ask them to do it – RAN has a petition up that goes straight to publishers, asking them to step up their game.
There is no reason why we can’t love books and rainforests too.