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tree huggers

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Lakelivin, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. Lakelivin

    Lakelivin New Member

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  2. MetMan

    MetMan Member

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    Most people are too lazy to adopt the wood burning lifestyle and stick with it. But what the heck, let them worry about wood burning too...
  3. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    I hugged a tree once. But she later pressed charges.
  4. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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  5. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    This un-abashed treehugger is very-much in favor of his own lifestyle (real shocker :) )
    The author is trying to look at wood-burning as a large-scale solution to carbon emissions from home-heating (in England no-less). Not suprising that he concludes it's not really viable.
    I know for a fact that none of the wood I burn would have been used for anything other than mulch, compost or land-fill, nor does it come from live trees that would otherwise have been left alone. If any of my neighbors were intent on selling their yard-tree wood for furniture making... they sure as heck wouldn't be giving it to me to burn. When you have just enough wood-burners to use-up the supply of available wood without reducing overall tree-cover, that seems the most efficient & sustainable resource use to me.
    Oh and as for burying wood underground to sequester it's carbon? Show me how to do that in an economical way & I'll show you a landfill producing methane.
    Maximize the energy efficiency of a home before installing a woodstove? I am already on that bandwagon along with other Treehuggers, Tight-wads, Foreign Oil-Haters, America-Firsters and regular folks with a heating bill, a calculator and a few hundred bucks to spend on supplies.
    Sorry I don't fit your dismissive, prejudiced label.
  6. FireWalker

    FireWalker Feeling the Heat

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    I take acception to a couple of points made in the article:

    Using natural gas for heating and let your wood lot absorb the CO2, this means your wood lot (if you have one) goes unmanaged. My qustion is.......will a well managed wood lot absorb more CO2 than one left to nature? I say no way because in a managed lot, you are using the wood that would naturally fall and decay on the forest floor. You also have to ask will an actively managed wood lot offset more CO2 than one thats left natural?

    As I see it, burning wood will always be a niche in the world of heating.
  7. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Lots of assumptions in this article- the argument about peak costs of wood vs other fuels assumes that one buys wood, which is quite contrary to the way that most woodburners seem to operate here. In England it may be very different, as they don't have the same forests or access that we have.

    The idea that we should act in the short term, using forest as a CO2 sink and burning gas assumes that the forest productivity is at some maximum when unmanaged- as near as I can tell. They are in emergency mode rather than finding long-term solutions, which seems to make sense to them.

    What they say about investing in insulation etc may be quite valid for many home owners.
  8. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    I don't think the article is really all that inflammatory (pun intended) ;-)

    Actually, if you read the study referenced in the article, which was co-authored by two guys who heat their houses with wood stoves, it says that as far as the CO2 goes, you'd be better to use the wood to make furniture and burn natural gas.

    But I'm not convinced there's any science behind the mandate to reduce carbon emissions. From 1940 to 1970 the earth was cooling. From 1980 to 2000 it was warming. It appears it's going to start cooling again. Take 100 years of temperature readings from any weather station and graph them and see if you don't agree.
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Natural gas is often a by-product of oil production. When we talk about carbon we should talk about the whole loop, and what it takes to get a therm of NG to my house compared to a tree 100' from my house. Everything from digging the well to digging the trench for the pipe and all the people who have to get paid in between should count as much as the gas+oil I put in my chainsaw. Also, the gas would have most likely stay in the ground, whereas the wood will most likely decompose and release, so I can't really believe its better.
  10. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    pyper:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record

    "Each of the last 13 years (1997–2009) was one of the 14 warmest on record."

    I am not going to argue causalities, but the earth is warmer than it has been for some time.
    Whether anything we do could make a difference is certainly open to debate.
    Whether we choose to try to do things are policy/value decisions.
    Personally, I know my preference between shipping money to countries that hate my values, versus investing capital and local labour in energy efficiency and sustainable power generation. If I make a marginal difference in carbon emissions, so much the better.
  11. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    The arguments in the article and the 'study' it references are basically that instead of burning wood, we could make stuff out of it and sequester the carbon for a long time, then burn gas instead, which releases less carbon per BTU. I guess that would be fine if there was a use for the wood we are burning, but in fact all of my wood, and I think most of the wood that is used for firewood, would otherwise rot or go to a landfill. So if i didn't heat with wood, the CO2 in the wood would nevertheless be released, albeit more slowly, and I would still burn somehting else to heat my house (actually, in my case, the electric company would burn coal to heat my house). My firewood is all from trees that were felled for some reason other than firewood, and I came along and diverted the wood to my stacks. Nobody was planning to make anything out of my firewood. Same goes for most of the wood people around here buy for firewood. The logs that are delivered for firewood seem mostly to be the stuff the lumberjacks felt was unsellable to the mill. For large-scale wood burning plants, I assume a lot of the wood is cut specifically to burn, and in that case perhaps you would release less carbon by letting the trees grow and burning gas instead. For most home wood burners, i think the situation is much different.
  12. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Oh, it's in Wikipedia -- it must be true.

    In reality it depends where you put the thermometers. If you put the thermometer in my back yard, last year was definitely colder than any in history. If you put them in airports in cities that you surround with more and more concrete you probably get a different answer.

    But that aside -- like I said, the earth warms and the earth cools. There are small cycles (daily and annually), medium cycles (every 20 to 40 years), and large cycles (hundreds or thousands of years). I'm old enough to remember the popular news programs in the 1970's talking about global cooling, and how it might be the start of another ice age. Then the cycle bottomed out and it started getting warmer. I'll bet you a piece of well seasoned oak that in 20 more years we will have plenty of evidence that it's cooling again. Because that's the cycle. Warmer for a while, then cooler for a while.

    But the real point is that there is very little, if any science that supports the idea that carbon causes global warming. If you're not certain about what I'm saying, read up on the scientific method first. Science shows that water vapor traps a ton of heat. If you took all the water vapor out of the air we'd all freeze to death, no matter how much co2 we put up there. Methane traps heat much better than co2, and it's much easier to reduce too.
  13. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Throw in "global dimming" which probably counteracts global warming and things really get complicated.
  14. pyper

    pyper New Member

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  15. zknowlto

    zknowlto New Member

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    There are a lot of variables as to how "green" wood heating is. It's hard to imagine how wood harvested from nearby, already dead trees, processed with hand tools, well seasoned and burned in an efficient stove could really have much of a negative environmental impact at all. However, once you begin processing live trees with power tools, transporting them long distances and burning the green wood in inefficient stoves or even open fireplaces, wood heat seems downright dirty. Basically, I think the article is right that wood heat, if utilized on a large scale, would be an environmental disaster in the sense that would encourage many more of the "dirtier" traits. This seems especially true in England, a country that's been largely deforested for centuries.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    No doubt that a large mass of human activity is going to have an effect on the planet. Some of these activities are clearly visible from the International Space Station. The best thing we can collectively do is to be conscious of this and minimize our individual footprint. At home a good start is to avoid waste by tightening up and insulating our houses. And use common sense. Burn cleanly and be satisfied with 72 instead of 80°F. These practices will result in less fuel burned, regardless of the source.

    I think wood burning responsibly is sustainable. Certainly using local forest products to heat the home has a lower impact than using coal generated electricity to do the job.
  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Go Blue! and BeGreen approach wood burning from a perspective that makes a lot of sense. I've been both condemned and praised for being a tree hugger. My tree hugging involves our own property and consists of a forestry stewardship plan (twice updated); sustainable forestry management practices; two timber cuts on our property and there will be more; several plantings over 15 years totaling about 40,000 trees; natural regeneration where appropriate; lop and scatter slash where appropriate to maintain soil nutrients rather than pile and burn or chip and haul away to be burned. My tree hugging also includes active involvement in forestry organizations that encourage and support sustainable forestry practices by private forest landowners.

    And it also involves heating our house with an inside wood stove for 20 years and heating the shop with a Tarm gasification boiler. Wood for both comes mostly from dead trees, trees downed in storms, and slabs from logs cut into lumber for local use. Some wood comes from live aspen trees that have reached maturity, tower above surrounding trees, and soon are likely to be downed in a storm with probable substantial damage to surrounding trees -- better to fell these than let them blow down.

    My wife and I live in a 1500 sq fit house with basement, also buy used cars that get 30+ mpg, have CFL's in all of our non-dimmable light fixture, use power strips to turn off electricity and reduce phantom usage, recycle everything we can, re-use as much as possible, and conserve energy and everything else as much as we can. "Waste not, want not" works for us, has allowed an early retirement, and has permitted substantial generosity to charitable organizations which for 30 years has resulted in giving away 10% + of our yearly income.

    I guess you could say that we live the tree hugger lifestyle. Maybe we all would be better off if more of us were tree huggers.
  18. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    And they're also discussing heating schools. The alternatives considered are natural gas fired boilers, which have been the common choice in the past, and wood fired boilers, which are all the rage. Given those two choices for heating a school in England NG seems to make more sense -- except for the subsidies.
  19. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    How can NG make more sense when the UK has already run out of its own North Sea gas and now relies on Russia and Norway to supply our needs. I get annoyed when these sort of reports are issued which do not take into account over 14 million tonnes of waste timber which ends up in landfill every year. Or that the national forest area is increasing not decreasing and still large areas of woodland need to be brought back into commercial production. Fortunately stoves are selling like hot cakes as people worry about fuel independence and the threat of Russia turning off the gas tap. Unfortunately a lot of new power stations have been built to use NG so the threat of power cuts is increasing with the rise in foreign imports of NG.

    Fortunately we use wood for both heating and cooking because the nearest gas point is 20 miles away.
  20. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Because if you go with NG you run a pipe and you're done. If you go with wood, then you have to pay people to supply it with wood, clean out the ashes and haul them off.

    Then again, if you believe that the roll of government is to provide employment for the population, then maybe wood does make more sense.

    Why do y'all send your waste timer to a landfill? Around here there are companies that turn waste timber into much and humus.
  21. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    We used to have town gas made from coal there is no reason why we could not have syngas made from wood to replace the NG then at least we would not be held to ransom by foreign gas suppliers.

    Timber goes to landfill because only virgin timber can legally be used on domestic stoves. We have strict controls on recycling waste timber which means it cannot be used for compost and would have to be burnt in approved waste incineration plants. However it is easier just to dump it in landfill sites.
  22. zknowlto

    zknowlto New Member

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    While I'm hardly an expert in British energy use, the real issue seems to be that the UK energy production has largely peaked and will almost certainly have to rely on energy imports for the foreseeable future. For the sake of argument, lets assume that the 14 million tons of waste timber you refer to are very dense hardwoods and have an energy equivalent of 17 million BTUs per ton. This means that approximately 238 trillion BTUS are being discarded every year. In 2009, the UK consumed approximately 3.1 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas. One CF of NG is 1034 BTUs. This means that UK used just over 3300 trillion BTUs of NG in 2009. Assuming that all the waste wood in the UK could be converted with 100% efficiency to NG or its equivalent, your talking about just over 7% of demand, hardly enough to end NG imports.

    I'm not saying that using biomass to supplement energy use is a bad idea or would not help reduce demand for Russian NG, but clearly, relying on wood to provide a substantial portion of energy is not feasible. Again, I believe wood consumption, particularly of what would otherwise be "waste" wood, will always occupy an important niche. However, when you take a hard look at the numbers, a large scale, societal shift to biomass energy is all but impossible.
  23. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Why the controls?
  24. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Let me guess... Do you get your "science" from oil industry shills like junkscience.com?
  25. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    No. I read the reports from the climate "science" advocates and I look at the sources of the data. I compare their reconstructions with the science of other disciplines, like paleontology and archeology. Their story isn't consistent with the evidence.

    Look at the weather station for LAX today and compare it to how it would have been sited in 1950. Yeah, it's warmer. Duh.

    But don't take my word for it. Check your own weather station records.

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