Letters

Letters 09-22-2014

Lame Duck Move

Twenty three states are controlled by Republican state legislatures and governors including Michigan. It is reported that Michigan Republicans are planning a sneak attack during the lame duck session to change the way electoral votes are allocated in presidential elections...

Lessons From The Middle East

“My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” That statement applies in the Middle East....

Student Athletes, Coaches Worth It

Are coaches at major universities overpaid? A simple Google search will show quite the opposite. These coaches do not get paid with taxpayer money. The coaches get paid by media companies, equipment companies, alumni groups, as well as revenue from ticket sales and merchandise...

Mute The Political Ads

Mark Sunday, September 14th as the opening of the flood gates, with TV political attack advertising. Fasten your seat belts until November 4th...

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