Letters

Letters 04-13-2015

Perplexing Eighth Street Changes I’m writing to you about the way 8th Street in Traverse City is organized. I commute on 8th Street daily like hundreds of others.

115 Years of Injustice Investigative reporter Pat Sullivan’s March 23 article “BURNOUT” exposed for the first time to many northern Michigan residents the 115-year-old tragedy that took place at Burt Lake in October of 1900.

Kicking The Prop 1 Can “Proposal 1 consists of only 100 words, but if approved by voters on May 5, it would trigger into law thousands of other words in 10 bills passed by the state legislature in December.”

Expose The Republican Playbook There was much angst among Democratic Party loyalists after the November election about their failure to convey a strong populist message.

Unions Are Essential Thanks to Stephen Tuttle for pointing out in his recent column how we have had trade apprenticeships for decades throughout Michigan and other states.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Wood Biomass is the...
. . . .

Wood Biomass is the opposite of Green Energy

Jeff Gibbs - November 16th, 2009
Wood Biomass is the Opposite of Green Energy
By Jeff Gibbs
Our community takes great pride in being exceptional stewards of the environment and leaders in the movement to stop global warming. But in the rush to find alternatives to fossil fuels—an effort I whole-heartedly endorse—not everything is as green as it seems. One option is in fact worse than fossil fuels.
It’s called biomass.
Biomass involves burning our forests as “woodchips” and calling it green energy. Sometimes tires, old houses, and garbage also get lumped in as “biomass.”
Burning wood is not green—it emits 50% more CO2 than coal.
Burning wood is not clean--it emits as much as 1,000 times more deadly particulates than natural gas and more even than coal.
We are all eager to move ahead on green energy and there are so many options being proposed it’s hard to keep up. But just as we learned that ethanol is not as green as it seems, the tide is turning against woody biomass as a green energy source as well.
Traverse City Light and Power is considering from three to five such “biomass” burning plants in a well-intended effort to meet our communities’ energy objectives. But new data has emerged and I call upon them to remove biomass from the energy mix, as burning wood and trees is the most climate and forest unfriendly option available.
I call upon TCLP to open up their planning and biomass “stakeholder” meetings to the public. If someone is even THINKING about putting wood and waste burning power plants in our community in a general way, those discussions need to happen in the open.
Recently (and this is new information) top scientists have called for woody biomass’s removal from the United Nation’s list of renewable energy options.

Timothy D. Searchinger, Princeton University:
“In reality, if an existing stand of forest land is cleared for fuel, the stored carbon is released and the forest’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide is diminished, thus concentration of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up.”
“Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error,” Science

And this from Oregon:
During simulated timber harvest, on-site carbon storage is reduced considerably and does not approach old-growth storage capacity for at least 200 years.
“Effects on Carbon Storage of Conversion of Old-Growth Forests to Young Forests”
-- Harmon, Ferrell, and Franklin

This has been the end result of Europe’s recent woodchip binge:
“Europe is going to cook the world’s tropical forests to fight climate change; it’s crazy.” -- Simone Lovera, of the Global Forest Coalition in Paraguay, “Who Says It’s Green to Burn Woodchips?” The Independent

And this about the health effects of wood smoke:
Scientists have long known that wood smoke contains carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals. But
research shows that wood smoke’s major ingredient — tiny particles of soot and liquid pollution — worsens heart disease and triggers asthma attacks.
“Hidden Costs in Wood Burning,” U.S.A. Today

If someone wanted to devise a plan to make global warming worse, it seems like cutting down trees and burning them in power plants would be about the most efficient way to do it. But in any event, I don’t believe our forests and our clean air and water can take any more than what we are already doing to them.

Jeff Gibbs is a local filmmaker and composer and is currently working on a project about how we’re going to solve our twin environmental and energy
conundrums. You can reach him at
jeffgibbstc@aol.com.

 
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