Paper is a material consumed in vast quantities, whose price in recent years has spiralled out of proportion to the general world-wide inflation. Shortage in supply of paper is due to considerable increase in consumption and, in the case of the developing countries, to inadequate local production and to a shortage of foreign exchange necessary for purchasing paper abroad.
The problem is most often publicized in terms of newsprint, but it is having a more lasting effect in limiting the production of school textbooks, and indeed books of all kinds, in developing countries, and in preventing or delaying the modernization of textbooks in desired directions. The recurrent difficulties arising from paper shortage have many serious consequences, particularly as regards educational, scientific and cultural progress in developing countries.
Between 1980 and 1995 the extent of the world's forests decreased by an area roughly the size of Mexico. In 2000 the World Conservation Union (IUCN) found that 18 per cent of the world's estimated 11,000 threatened species were critically endangered. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of the world's people do not have access to enough paper to meet minimum requirements for basic literacy and communication, but wealthy countries consumer paper at an astonishing rate. An average American uses 19 times more paper than the average person in a developing country and most of it becomes trash. Less than half of the paper used in the US gets recycled.