Issue #69

Last Update October 31, 2010

National  Solving The Carbon Problem by Gert Innsry April 10, 2009  The computer's contribution to global warming has been written about, but only in terms of the impact and energy costs of mining, fabrication and transportation on the environment, and the electricity used to run the millions of home and commercial computers we all depend on for work and play. Left out of the total is the change computers have made to the process of writing, in which keyboards have replaced handwriting and laser and ink jet printers have replaced pencils. 

When was the last time you saw anyone writing with a pencil, especially a good old-fashioned wooden one with graphite "lead", a pencil that needed to be sharpened from time to time and eventually wore down to a stub? Pencils are ecologically sound. The wooden outside comes from a renewable resource; the graphite center, which leaves the marks on paper, is actually a form of carbon. Carbon is a hot topic among Global Warming circles. CO2 in the atmosphere (carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas, and great efforts are being made to reduce its production, or, where production is unavoidable, to isolate and store it. "Cap and trade" schemes are being introduced whereby carbon-polluting companies can buy indulgences for their sins from companies or countries, which have reduced their carbon production. The concept of "clean coal" has been proposed as part of the solution to the petroleum problem. "Clean coal" is nothing more than a means of mining and burning coal to produce power while sequestering the sulfur and carbon oxides that burning coal normally produces. 

That's where my proposal comes in: get rid of computers for all personal and business writing. Switch to pencils. At one stroke, we solve two problems: we reduce the electricity consumed by computers, and instead of having to figure out what to do with sequestered carbon, we have a market for it that pays for the sequestration process. Turn all the sequestered carbon into graphite and make pencils. 

This should have a positive impact on the job market as well. Growing cedar forests and cutting the mature trees would employ many, while the reduction in writing speed from switching from computer to pencil and paper would increase the number of secretaries and clerical workers needed. Blind beggars would have more pencils to sell, and people would actually know what they are. 

Of course, one carbon problem will remain. Where do you find carbon paper for making copies nowadays?

In the next New York Stringer issue, I'll let you in on my plan to defuse the mortgage crisis by constructing tenements in the suburbs. 

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