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Book Burning: The Environmental Issues

Enviro-mental Special Report


Book Burning: The Environmental Issues

UN publishes a Good Practice Guide for environmentally responsible protesters

Originally published GTG Nov 2010

It's showtime!

UN, New York, Sept 27:
Across the world religious and political activists are being confronted with a daily dilemma: how to go about their routine daily protests but with due consideration for the environment?

Burning books, icons, and flags has proven to be be a highly effective way for otherwise irrelevant organizations and theologically retarded activists to get prime-time exposure in the world’s media. In a modern society committed to affirmative action (positive discrimination) perhaps that’s only right and proper, but everybody now agrees that in the 21st century it’s no longer acceptable if such actions lead directly or indirectly to the death of polar bears and penguins

With this in mind the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published guidelines for protesters, so that they can make informed assessments of the likely environmental impact of their actions. The IPCC hope that this might persuade activists to switch to more environmentally acceptable methods of protest, such as hunger strikes

But for groups who haven’t got the self discipline for that, then at the very least it’s hoped they might consider switching from burning books to something with a smaller carbon footprint, perhaps national flags, BP brochures, or U2 CDs

PDFs – the best choice
Finally, the report stresses the benefit of deleting PDF copies of the texts. This might have all of the symbolic benefits of a book burning but without the environmental consequences (and its cheaper too!)


Environmental Impact Assessment Table (extract)

God related lifestyle manual (various)
Carbon Intensity 2.5kg to 3kg (hardback)/0.0000000015kg (online PDF)
Environmental Impact Assessment: High (book)/Minimal(PDF)
Human effigy (life size)
Carbon Intensity 10kg
Environmental Impact Assessment: High
US/British/French/Israeli Flag
Carbon Intensity 0.25kg
Environmental Impact Assessment: Medium
BP Corporate Brochure
Carbon Intensity 0.37kg
Environmental Impact Assessment: Medium
Noddy Goes to Toyland
Carbon Intensity 0.15kg (hardback)/0.1kg (paperback)
Environmental Impact Assessment: Minimal
(note: parental supervision required)
The Grey Town Gazette
Carbon Intensity 0.0000000015kg (email)
(or 10.4kg if you are incensed enough to feel compelled to burn the PC too)
Environmental Impact Assessment: trivial (email) to tragic (email + PC)
The Da Vinci Code
Carbon Intensity Zero (unrated) – everyone agrees this should be burnt at every opportunity


Other considerations:
The guide urges protesters only to make effigies out of reclaimed or, at the very least, recycled card and paper.

Larger groups are also encouraged to consider purchasing carbon offsets for their protests to mitigate the damage they are doing

Health and Safety Warning:
Playing with fire can be dangerous. The report recommends that rather than attempt your own book burning protest at home it is preferable to attend an official public event where all the appropriate safety measures will have been taken

Poison Pen
However, if you are determined to conduct a private protest please note early religious lifestyle guides are bound in medieval leather and this along with the inks and illuminations could contain heavy metals and other toxins. If you are considering burning these please be sure to stand upwind and preferably also wear an appropriate CE certified gas mask*

* Wearing a bullet proof vest might also be a good idea

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