Burning trees doesn’t fight climate change


Burning trees doesn’t fight climate change

Earlier in 2020 the movie Planet of the Humans put the spotlight on some outdated ideas about biomass electricity generation. Our Forest Defense team wrote this blog post to explain why we don’t support biomass a renewable energy resource. See more about our Forest Defense team here.

  • There is still some debate, but consensus of most climate scientists is that tree biomass as a fuel source will result in increased CO2 emissions if we consider a time horizon shorter than ~60 years.  Given the rate of climate disruption we cannot wait that long to hopefully restore the forests we burn today.
  • When burned, wood emits more CO2 per kWh than coal.
  • Theoretically, with a long timescale, burning trees for energy could be carbon neutral, but if we want climate-neutral wood to burn today for biomass we need to have planted the trees 40 years ago on otherwise unproductive land.
  • There is an argument that waste wood and brush can go into biomass energy generation, but the high demand for biomass has spurred logging of whole trees for wood pellets, especially in the Southeastern United States. This logging and subsequent pellet production, shipping, and burning, puts CO2 into the atmosphere now when we desperately need to be decreasing overall CO2 emissions immediately.
  • Some references for discussions of the CO2 emissions consequences of biomass can be found herehere, and here. This is a complex topic where there is still debate about whether there could be a role for biomass under some management schemes.
  • Some general reading articles about biomass can be found herehere, and here, and will give you an idea of the climate considerations.

August 2018 Climate Science Round-Up

Our Climate Science Round-Ups are a compilation of recent news about climate science. In this edition, we pull articles from BBC, NPR, and The Seattle Times about hidden warming gasses found in waste, the highest ocean surface temperatures recorded in a century, and the harsh effects of climate change being felt around the world.

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July 2018 Climate Science Round-Up

Our Climate Science Round-Ups are a compilation of recent news about climate science. In this edition, we pull articles from NPR, The Guardian, and The Washington Post about major crops losing nutrients, the devastating lasting effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and global temperatures potentially doubling from predicted models.

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June 2018 Climate Science Round-Up

Our Climate Science Round-Ups are a compilation of recent news about climate science. In this edition, we pull articles from Nature, the BBC, and The Washington Post about weather trends in the US, plastic found in British mussels, and some key steps that individuals can take to reduce their impact on the earth. 

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October Climate Science Roundup

Despite concerns that it might be blocked by the Trump administration, the Fourth National Climate Assessment report was recently released. This month’s climate science news is a mix of good and bad: peat bogs may be more resilient carbon sinks than we thought, forests can help us fight heat waves, and narwhals are helping us study glacier melt, but on the other hand, more glaciers may be at risk of melting and some climate scientists are facing gag orders from the government.

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August Climate Science News Roundup

Hurricanes, fires, and drought, oh my! Deep into the summer, the evidence of climate change seems to be all around us. This month’s climate science round-up seeks to provide accurate and effective information so that we can work together to save our planet. Read more

Hurricane Harvey and the Future of Oregon’s Rural Counties

The beginning of the year’s above average precipitation began in the Southeast corner of the state in some of its most rural counties

Flooding in Oregon in early 2017 damaged many rural roads. Hurricane Harvey is expected to do the same in Texas; dumping an additional 1-3 feet of rain in the days after 2.5 feet of rain had already fallen in the first three days of the storm. Harvey previews future flood-problems for Oregon’s rural roads, while also lending  insight into how simple things such as simply being more careful with one another can save as many lives as rebuilding the physical infrastructure that connects us.

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Bangladesh In Devastating Climate Change-induced Flooding

Climate Change Induced Multiple Heavy Floods Hit the Same Areas During a Single Monsoon Season in Bangladesh

Written by Mukti Rahman, a 350PDX IREX Fellow during the fall of 2016. Mukti has since returned to her home country of Bangladesh, and continues to work to empower women in the work of ensuring access to clean drinking water as the sea levels rise and salinate the groundwater.  

credit: 350.org in Bangladesh

Due to heavy rainfall, this year people of Bangladesh have been affected by multiple heavy floods. Prolonged and successive devastating floods are being induced by climate change impact. Life has come to stand still & economic activities have been severely jeopardized. Around 25% of 160 million population of the country including major cities (Dhaka, Chittagong etc.) has been affected. Over thousands of villages have been inundated by this prolonged flooding, even several times each. Schools remain closed due to the devastation. Road and railway communication in many areas have been snapped. Access to medical facilities especially in the rural areas has become externally limited. People in the affected areas are in dire need of dry food, medical supplies, and fresh water. Access to adequate sanitation especially for women and children has become nearly impossible. Resulting in high proliferation of infectious water borne diseases like Diarrhoea, Hepatitis, Typhoid etc. Due to inundation of homesteads, many families have moved to higher land and living in makeshift shelters expose to elements of weather.


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