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Ned W

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Biomass issues
« on: April 17, 2015, 02:33:40 PM »
Apparently the shift from coal to woody biomass fuel, especially in the UK, is causing problems:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/16/3644889/woody-biomass-is-thicket-of-trouble/

These power plant conversions were sold based on the idea that they'd be burning scrap wood, residue from other forestry operations, etc.  Instead, they're leveling vast expanses of forest that would otherwise be accumulating biomass and sequestering carbon.

JimD

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2015, 06:31:43 PM »
Another huge problem with ideas like this is they fail to take into account one of the core issues of sustainability.  To maintain a sustainable system it must balance in terms of nutrients.  Calories/btu's out must balance with what comes in so to speak. 

If you take all the scrap/dead wood (not even counting mowing down all of the trees) out of a forest you will starve it eventually.  It is the same with growing crops.  Thus the need we have for a vast complex of artificial fertilizer manufacturers to provide nutrients for our industrial farming operations.

There is no solution in the direction of ideas like this unless the global population has returned to the Earth's carrying capacity.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Tom_Mazanec

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2019, 06:53:50 PM »
SHARKS (CROSSED OUT) MONGEESE (SIC) WITH FRICKIN LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

morganism

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2019, 12:57:36 AM »
U.S. Forests Are Being Clear-Cut to Supply Biomass Energy Industry, Report Finds

"Forests in the U.S. Southeast are being logged at four times the rate as those in the Amazon, according to the UN’s biodiversity report released last month."

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/u-s-forests-are-being-devastated-to-supply-biomass-energy-industry-report-finds

pdf report:

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/global-markets-biomass-energy-06172019.pdf


be cause

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2019, 02:07:21 AM »
absurdely replacing local wood grown as biomass in N. Ireland as the devastation in America is being massively subsidized by the British tax-payer . Another of Cameron's follies ! .. b.c.
2007 + 5 = 2012 + 4 = 2016 + 3 = 2019 ...

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2019, 06:42:31 AM »
U.S. Forests Are Being Clear-Cut to Supply Biomass Energy Industry, Report Finds

"Forests in the U.S. Southeast are being logged at four times the rate as those in the Amazon, according to the UN’s biodiversity report released last month."

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/u-s-forests-are-being-devastated-to-supply-biomass-energy-industry-report-finds

pdf report:

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/global-markets-biomass-energy-06172019.pdf

The company doing the harvesting says that the wood being turned into pellets is waste wood from lumber mills.  Here in the PNW we grow large amount of timber for lumber.  Less than 50% of a harvested tree is suitable for lumber.  Some of the waste is chipped for particle board.  The rest is burned in biomass plants or hauled to landfills.

Some 'entire' trees are likely turned into pellets.  Some trees have no useful lumber in them.  I recently took down a large black oak that looked like a mass of stored carbon.  Actually, it was rotten at the core and much of the 'stored' carbon had been converted to methane by the microbes that were eating away its insides.

Yes, clearcut harvesting is standard practice.  The cost of building materials would soar if we selectively cut only the best trees.  And a lot of junk trees would be left behind.  Best practice in a timber operation is to clearcut and replant.  The timber business is basically agriculture where we don't eat or make fabric out of the plants we grow but build houses and make furniture.

As for biomass putting more CO2 into the atmosphere that might be the case, but I question how much more, if any.  The larger issue is whether we end up with more or less carbon above ground. 

The trees harvested will be replaced with new trees that will suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and hold it out until they are harvested.  And when harvested will leave almost as much carbon buried underground in their now abandoned root systems as was hauled off to the mill. 

The carbon we extract from beneath the Earth's surface when we use coal and other fossil fuels add to our problems and new oil wells don't take that carbon and put it back underground but bring even more to the surface.


kinbote

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2019, 08:42:33 AM »

<snip>

As for biomass putting more CO2 into the atmosphere that might be the case, but I question how much more, if any.  The larger issue is whether we end up with more or less carbon above ground. 

The trees harvested will be replaced with new trees that will suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and hold it out until they are harvested.  And when harvested will leave almost as much carbon buried underground in their now abandoned root systems as was hauled off to the mill. 

<snip>

Enviva has long claimed any criticism of their methods are misleading or false, claiming they only use an approximate 30% of wood for their processing while moving the rest on to other forest product markers, but so far I can see, they've not provided any evidence for this type of processing.  Not even something as suggestive as the imagery of natural wetlands being devastated and whole wood trees trucking into Enviva's plant in the links morganism provided that claims otherwise. Where are those trucks going? Maybe some inventory reports could be shared?

Regardless of their truthiness there, it's worth noting Enviva states on their website only 20% of the land they clear is replanted, leaving the rest to 'natural regeneration management(1).' Additionally worth noting that North Carolina has 'no laws limiting climate pollution, and virtually no authority to police which forests are harvested and whether they are replanted,(2)' so even verifying that minuscule amount of replanting is impossible.

There is also strong evidence these US biomass companies are anything but green in the production of these wood pellets: 'The EIP investigation found that the 21 U.S. wood pellet mills currently exporting to Europe emit a total of 16,000 tons of health-threatening air pollutants per year, including more than 2,500 tons of particulate matter (soot), 3,200 tons of nitrogen oxides, 2,100 tons of carbon monoxide, and 7,000 tons of volatile organic compounds. These plants also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to the study.(3)'

Additionally, there is the study by OSU showing logging in is by far the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon(4). Also the report with tons of good information including the bit about 'carbon emissions from logging from 2006 to 2010 averaged 162 +/- 10 Tg/year (equal to 584 MMT of CO2), an amount greater than fossil fuel emissions from the residential and commercial sectors combined(5).' And finally, although many people may 'feel' like biomass is a good alternative, or stepping stone, to greening, some 772 scientists signed a letter to EU Parliament saying the exact opposite(6).

It's as if there is some uncertainty around exactly how much more CO2 savings we get with biomass vs coal, we get a green light to proceed, thinking, hey, it's probably better, right? We can all feel good and applaud those reports and tweets about the UK not burning coal for x amount of days. And maybe it is if we have a century or more to work this transition. But, from my perspective anyway, one has to put on some damn thick rose-colored glasses to view this as anything other than the EU outsourcing some of their carbon emissions by taking advantage of the US's 19th century environmental policies.

One last fitting quote: 'We have a little over ten years to cut emissions in half. They now like to do this smoke and mirrors fake accounting trick – other trees are not sucking up the CO2 – but that doesn’t compensate for emission(7).'


(1) http://www.envivabiomass.com/procurement/timber-reforestation/
(2) https://energynews.us/2019/01/02/southeast/in-north-carolina-wood-pellet-foes-see-opportunity-in-coopers-climate-order/
(3) http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news/biomass-report/
(4) https://sustainable-economy.org/osu-research-confirms-big-timber-leading-source-greenhouse-gas-emissions-oregon/
(5) https://www.dogwoodalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/The-Great-American-Stand-Report.pdf
(6) https://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/01/Letter-of-Scientists-on-Use-of-Forest-Biomass-for-Bioenergy-January-12-2018.pdf
(7) https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/uk-drax-power-plant-burning-us-trees-wood-pellets-deforestation/



Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2019, 08:54:31 AM »
I don't understand this part from reference (4) in your post...

Quote
Logging related emissions are not counted in the state’s annual inventory of greenhouse gases because the OGWC relies on a methodology that was “written by loggers for loggers” according to non-governmental organizations monitoring international meetings that birthed the accounting rules almost two decades ago. Rather than disclosing logging related emissions, these rules mask the damage by burying the information needed to isolate logging emissions within broad calculations of changes in carbon stocks on forestlands of all types and all ownership categories. The emphasis of the adopted rules is on  “carbon flux,” which is merely a measure of the ins and outs of carbon on the landscape during any given period. The assumption is that if the ins and outs are roughly balanced – something that can be achieved by regularly mowing a lawn, for example – then there is nothing to worry about and the forest sector as a whole is considered carbon neutral.

But regardless of carbon flux across the landscape, logging-related emissions are substantial and must be part of annual emissions reporting so that appropriate policy interventions can be designed to ramp such emissions down on par with other sectors being considered for regulation.

This, specifically...

Quote
The emphasis of the adopted rules is on  “carbon flux,” which is merely a measure of the ins and outs of carbon on the landscape during any given period. The assumption is that if the ins and outs are roughly balanced ... then there is nothing to worry about and the forest sector as a whole is considered carbon neutral.

But regardless of carbon flux across the landscape, logging-related emissions are substantial and must be part of annual emissions reporting

It sounds like the argument is being made that we must could the GHG emissions from timber production but we should ignore any GHG recapture/sequestering timber production might do.


kinbote

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2019, 09:17:44 AM »
I don't understand this part from reference (4) in your post...

This, specifically...

Quote
The emphasis of the adopted rules is on  “carbon flux,” which is merely a measure of the ins and outs of carbon on the landscape during any given period. The assumption is that if the ins and outs are roughly balanced ... then there is nothing to worry about and the forest sector as a whole is considered carbon neutral.

But regardless of carbon flux across the landscape, logging-related emissions are substantial and must be part of annual emissions reporting

It sounds like the argument is being made that we must could the GHG emissions from timber production but we should ignore any GHG recapture/sequestering timber production might do.

The authors are stating the OGWC are not accurately, or even attempting to, measure carbon emissions from the logging industry and are instead relying on self-reporting only from the logging industry to provide their own accounting. And this accounting has serious flaws that benefit the industry. As described here:

"Clearcutting and use of forest chemicals and fertilizers on industrial forestlands could represent Oregon’s second largest source of global warming pollution and are subverting the State’s climate agenda by making landscapes more susceptible to wildfires, landslides, floods and warm waters that kill salmon. And despite legal requirements to do so, the Oregon Global Warming Commission has failed to track and evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from forest practices or follow through on commitments to develop and promote alternative management techniques that can transform these lands from a net source to a net sink for atmospheric carbon. The key culprit: a flawed international greenhouse gas accounting protocol that lumps all forest owners into one aggregate “forest sector” and allows the timber industry to take credit for carbon sequestered on forests protected by non-profits, small landowners, and public agencies."

https://www.forestlegacies.org/press-room/1265-oregon-forestry-is-clearcutting-our-climate-future

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2019, 02:15:17 PM »
In Luxembourg, clear cuts are only allowed under specific circumstances, for example if there is an health issue with the trees.  Forests are usually not replanted, but the trees left behind should produce the seeds for the new forest.Replanting is very expensive and nobody knows what kind of tree will be trendy in 100 or 200 years. Since trees grow slowly, it doesn't change much if 20 years are needed for the forest to grow.

About biomass, I also had a discussion with somebody saying that home compost is not an optimal solution because composting creates heat, and that heat is lost. If you do it in an industrial context, you get heat, you get biogas, and you also get compost that can be used. Well, I don't trust too much the compost comming from industrial facilities and the truck picking up biotrash and the one bringing the compost back in a shop also create heat that is lost. It looks like the compost coming out of the biogas systems might be the next toxic waste. Even in my own compost, I find labels that were on the fruits, so imagine what can be in it if you collect organic trash from people who are not worried about it.

For me, this biomass issues are the proof that degrowth and efficiency gains are requirements for a sustainable world. You just can't produce renewable energy as fast as the extraction rate out of the oilfields and  coal mines. Degrowth doesn't mean back to middle age, but to think for each energy use if there is a produced service (work, health, food, communication, storage, transportation, leisure, comfort...) and if the service is justified. Yes, comfort is a justified service, but it is sometimes difficult to put a limit between comfort and waste.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2019, 06:08:08 PM »
I don't understand this part from reference (4) in your post...

This, specifically...

Quote
The emphasis of the adopted rules is on  “carbon flux,” which is merely a measure of the ins and outs of carbon on the landscape during any given period. The assumption is that if the ins and outs are roughly balanced ... then there is nothing to worry about and the forest sector as a whole is considered carbon neutral.

But regardless of carbon flux across the landscape, logging-related emissions are substantial and must be part of annual emissions reporting

It sounds like the argument is being made that we must could the GHG emissions from timber production but we should ignore any GHG recapture/sequestering timber production might do.

The authors are stating the OGWC are not accurately, or even attempting to, measure carbon emissions from the logging industry and are instead relying on self-reporting only from the logging industry to provide their own accounting. And this accounting has serious flaws that benefit the industry. As described here:

"Clearcutting and use of forest chemicals and fertilizers on industrial forestlands could represent Oregon’s second largest source of global warming pollution and are subverting the State’s climate agenda by making landscapes more susceptible to wildfires, landslides, floods and warm waters that kill salmon. And despite legal requirements to do so, the Oregon Global Warming Commission has failed to track and evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from forest practices or follow through on commitments to develop and promote alternative management techniques that can transform these lands from a net source to a net sink for atmospheric carbon. The key culprit: a flawed international greenhouse gas accounting protocol that lumps all forest owners into one aggregate “forest sector” and allows the timber industry to take credit for carbon sequestered on forests protected by non-profits, small landowners, and public agencies."

https://www.forestlegacies.org/press-room/1265-oregon-forestry-is-clearcutting-our-climate-future

Do you have a pair of "objective lenses" you can put on and read the last part of your post?

Quote
Clearcutting and use of forest chemicals and fertilizers on industrial forestlands could represent Oregon’s second largest source of global warming pollution and are subverting the State’s climate agenda by making landscapes more susceptible to wildfires, landslides, floods and warm waters that kill salmon.

Oregon's clear cutting is not being done for wood pellets/biomass.  It's done for lumber. 

I don't know much about how Oregon manages timber harvest but in California harvesting actually reduces wildfire risk.  Many forests are choked with dead small  trees, bushes, and other things that aren't found in old growth timber stands.  Forests were logged and left to regrow with no follow up thinning.  What I've seen around here is that after cuts are replanted crews go back in and thin in order to let trees mature and eliminate a build up of fuel.

Cuts are not permitted if they might cause landslides.  Streams are protected.  Trees are not cut along streams in order to keep water temperatures from rising. 

I've heard nothing at all about chemicals and fertilizer being used in the commercial timber industry in California.  There might be some fertilizer used in growing replacement seedlings.  And there's a technique of making 'seed balls' with tree seeds inside of a bit of clay and a very small amount of fertilizer so that difficult to replant areas can be seeded from planes.  But that is, I think, very uncommonly used.

Quote
The authors are stating the OGWC are not accurately, or even attempting to, measure carbon emissions from the logging industry and are instead relying on self-reporting only from the logging industry to provide their own accounting.

And the authors are refusing to acknowledge the carbon that is recaptured from the atmosphere by new growth.  Pot calls kettle black.

Look, I'm not on the biomass side or on the anti-biomass side.  I'm on the side of using all the data and not making stuff up.  I'm seeing what seems to be non-objective reporting.   And I also suspect there are no perfect solutions.  I think we have to concentrate on minimizing climate change.  If that means we make some other messes that might be the cost of not making the planet inhospitable for humans. 




kinbote

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2019, 11:56:09 PM »

And the authors are refusing to acknowledge the carbon that is recaptured from the atmosphere by new growth.  Pot calls kettle black.


The first Oregon article is a study showing carbon emissions from logging are high. The second says the logging industry in Oregon has extremely loose standards for showing what qualifies as their own carbon recapture methods. I'm not understanding how you've read the authors are dishonest or 'refusing to acknowledge the carbon that is recaptured from the atmosphere by new growth.' They are saying the industry, given the current existing accounting methodology, allows them to use carbon recapture from any already existing forests, not associated with anything the industry is involved with. If I cut down X acres of forest, it's still a net carbon sink as there are tons of other forests out there, and therefore I don't have to replant or manage that land in anyway. Maybe your agree with that, maybe you do not, but for me, it seems like a very vague policy to trust any industry to, not just logging.

My points in sharing the two Oregon articles were to suggest the environmental footprint of the logging industry in the states is much larger than usually understood or reported and that US regulations allow the logging industry keep that reporting murky. Perhaps California does indeed have better logging management regarding the environment. I will have to trust your feelings on that, but lacking evidence elsewhere, and as regulations are lax or non-existent for reporting in other states, it often falls upon persons outside the industry to investigate and verify any industry claims. So when mentioning morganism's links, and providing others, it provides a groundwork of evidence, both circumstantial and, yes, actual studies, to suggest both that Enviva is not being entirely forthright in their accounting, and the logging industry itself has no legal reason to be forthright and may not be as green or carbon neutral as we feel or assume.

Relegating any criticism, particularly those that are tangential to the overall debate, as non-objective or dishonest, and then dismissing the entire argument as therefore fraudulent derails any further possible conversation. Nevertheless, before I happily go back into lurker mode where I belong; for the sake of clarification, I'm not attempting or expecting to provide any discussion-ending evidence for why biomass is bad or good in any dualistic form. It's a complex issue with lots of smarter folks than I arguing about it. If you feel the goal is only minimizing climate change, then you have an arguable position. My opinion, as I expressed above, is I agree with those who say time is running out. We do not have time to merely minimize, and half-measures like biomass are ultimately not helpful and, on the contrary, play a role in the ongoing delusion we can transition to green without any, or minimal, impacts to our consumer culture and lifestyles.
Worse still, there is compelling evidence to suggest the carbon sink associated with wood pellets might be not nearly as deep as we thought or hoped. I positively feel those are worth investigating and verifying, versus merely trusting the industry to self-report. In a more perfect world, those investigations would have taken place before, or alongside the ramping up of biomass production, but, here we are.
So, while I hope you're right, I believe we should act as if you're not. And with that, I'm sneaking back into the voyeuristic forum underbelly!

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2019, 12:17:58 AM »
Quote
Relegating any criticism, particularly those that are tangential to the overall debate, as non-objective or dishonest, and then dismissing the entire argument as therefore fraudulent derails any further possible conversation.

In no way have I attempted to dismiss the argument.  I'm calling for including all the data, not just the data that suits one side of the argument.
----

As for not replanting, that is an accepted forest practice in some circumstances.  Often one or more 'mother trees' are left high on a slope that would be difficult to plant with seedlings and the seeds from those mother trees spread their seeds over the next year or two which restart the growth.  I don't know how regrowth is encouraged in southeastern forests, I've been gone from that part of the country for a long time.  But when I did live there replanting with seedlings on the pulp plantations seemed to be common practice.  In the mixed species of the Appalachian area I think the forest was left to reseed itself.  But that was many years ago. 

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2019, 09:01:03 AM »
I don't know the exact data, but my feeling is that in Luxembourg, less than 50% of the trees are removed when cuts are done. Of course the % of removed biomass is higher than the % of trees because older trees are cut.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 09:21:05 PM by etienne »

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2019, 05:03:12 PM »
I read somewhere  ::)  that burning wood puts more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal, when measured against the BTUs produced.
If this is true, wouldn't heating using CH4, or any method that actually produces fewer green house gasses be a preferable solution?
Isn't the object to release the lowest amounts of GHG the objective regardless of the material being burned & it's renewability?


Terry

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2019, 05:35:23 PM »
Terry, A tree absorbs CO2 as it grows and releases it when it dies and decomposes or when it burns.
CH4 is buried in a different kind of carbon sink that takes thousands or tens of thousands of years to go  from CO2 to photosynthetic life to death,sedimentation ,burial, and bacterial decomposition . Keeping carbon in the longest termed carbon sinks requires we not dig it up and burn it. When we burn trees we are just recycling the carbon that exists in surface biomass on earth. When we burn fossil fuels we are dragging carbon out of deep long term carbon sinks and adding them to shorter term carbon sinks .
We can't ever put it back on human timescales. We can however plant and grow trees.
 

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2019, 07:58:48 PM »
Quote
I read somewhere  ::)  that burning wood puts more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal, when measured against the BTUs produced.

Our first job is to stop increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans. 

Let's assume, lacking a number, burning wood might release 2x more carbon than coal, natural gas, and oil.  If we could replace all fossil fuel use in 2020 with burning wood there would be a significant one year jump in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.  A 2x amount of fossil fuel use years.

But the amount of carbon in 2021, 2022, 2023, and following years would not increase.  No new carbon would be added to our overload.  We'd be in a recycling, not "introducing more"  mode.

Then we could start working on decreasing rather than preventing.
---

The above assumes we could regrow/recapture carbon as fast as we released it by burning wood.  That would take a few years to work out.  Stable carbon levels would take a few years, the time determined by how rapidly we planted more forests.

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2019, 08:44:49 PM »
Terry, A tree absorbs CO2 as it grows and releases it when it dies and decomposes or when it burns.
CH4 is buried in a different kind of carbon sink that takes thousands or tens of thousands of years to go  from CO2 to photosynthetic life to death,sedimentation ,burial, and bacterial decomposition . Keeping carbon in the longest termed carbon sinks requires we not dig it up and burn it. When we burn trees we are just recycling the carbon that exists in surface biomass on earth. When we burn fossil fuels we are dragging carbon out of deep long term carbon sinks and adding them to shorter term carbon sinks .
We can't ever put it back on human timescales. We can however plant and grow trees.


Bruce
I believe I understand your argument.


My objective is to put the least GHGs possible into the atmosphere.


If for 1 season I burn enough wood to meet my requirements I'll release 1SW-GHG(season wood).
If for 1 season I burn enough CH4 to meet my requirements I'll release 1SG-GHG(season CH4).
If 1SW-GHG > 1SG-GHG, I'm ahead of the game by using the least emitting source.


Whether atmospheric GHG is the result of burning a tree, burning coal, burning biotic CH4, or burning a-biotic CH4, once it's released in molecular form it's a problem. If a living forest is sequestering CH4, then sequestering a smaller amount will require less time, or a smaller forest.


Even if we could stay CO2 neutral by burning wood and growing replacement trees, we'd be better off burning CH4, putting less CO2 into the atmosphere and allowing our now slightly larger forest to sequester that, as well as some of the excess CO2 that was there before we lit our kindling or pilot light.


We don't have thousands of years to wait for "deep" sequestration. :'(
Terry

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2019, 09:00:46 PM »
Quote
I read somewhere  ::)  that burning wood puts more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal, when measured against the BTUs produced.

Our first job is to stop increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans. 

Let's assume, lacking a number, burning wood might release 2x more carbon than coal, natural gas, and oil.  If we could replace all fossil fuel use in 2020 with burning wood there would be a significant one year jump in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.  A 2x amount of fossil fuel use years.

But the amount of carbon in 2021, 2022, 2023, and following years would not increase.  No new carbon would be added to our overload.  We'd be in a recycling, not "introducing more"  mode.

Then we could start working on decreasing rather than preventing.
---

The above assumes we could regrow/recapture carbon as fast as we released it by burning wood.  That would take a few years to work out.  Stable carbon levels would take a few years, the time determined by how rapidly we planted more forests.
Bob
Apparently we were both AWOL for a time.
Great to be back in touch.


I agree with the first sentence I bolded.
I don't see how the second bolded paragraph could apply.


Why wouldn't the following three years and beyond simply continue dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at twice the rate per your example? As far as I know the removal of GHG from the atmosphere takes far longer than a single year.


If we could grow enough forests to remove twice our emissions, wouldn't it be easier to grow 1/2 that forest and remove our present GHGs?


Terry

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2019, 09:31:54 PM »
The problem with wood is that there is more humidity in it than in other fuels. So when you burn it, you need to evaporate that humidity and this requires some energy.

The other issue with wood is that it also generates CO2 when it decays. Don't know the details, but I knows that values are not always the same depending of how this happens.

There is a third issue that is forest fires. What is the best way to avoid it ? Should we get some wood out of it or not ?

I see a fourth issue with firewood, which is that in some areas, forests are overcut, for example in Haiti. Overthere, if you leave the trees alive and use natural gas, maybe you increase the CO2 absorption possibilities.

This is a subject where I see more questions than answers.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2019, 09:49:31 PM »
Quote
Why wouldn't the following three years and beyond simply continue dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at twice the rate per your example?

The amount of carbon dumped into the atmosphere would continue to be 2x higher.  But the regrowth, once balanced, would remove the same amount of carbon.  The space we freed by harvesting trees would grow new trees which would capture the same amount as released.  There would be a balance between amount released and amount recaptured.

If we burned fossil fuels each year we would need to add more acreage of forest to soak up that amount of carbon.  There would be no way to reach equilibrium because there wouldn't be enough land. 

Actually, a crop that produces fuel in one year would be a better example.  Take a perennial grass such as switchgrass or miscanthus.  If we replaced fossil fuels with ethanol from one of those grasses we would reach atmospheric carbon stability.  The grasses would capture the amount released each year. 

Each year we would release last year's carbon as this year's carbon would be recaptured for next year's use. 
----

Actually, it would  not only be carbon neutral but would actually lower carbon in the atmosphere as plants fix carbon below ground with their root systems.  A very common omission in biomass discussions is the amount of carbon re-sequestered by deep root systems.  Many trees have as much underground mass as aboveground mass.  When a tree pulls down two pounds of CO2 the carbon from about one pound of CO2 gets tucked back underground.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2019, 10:16:51 PM »
The problem with wood is that there is more humidity in it than in other fuels. So when you burn it, you need to evaporate that humidity and this requires some energy.

The other issue with wood is that it also generates CO2 when it decays. Don't know the details, but I knows that values are not always the same depending of how this happens.

There is a third issue that is forest fires. What is the best way to avoid it ? Should we get some wood out of it or not ?

I see a fourth issue with firewood, which is that in some areas, forests are overcut, for example in Haiti. Overthere, if you leave the trees alive and use natural gas, maybe you increase the CO2 absorption possibilities.

This is a subject where I see more questions than answers.

1) Yes, moisture in wood does require energy use to cook it off.  I try to cut wood two to three years in advance to give it lots of time to dry out.  Makes a huge difference.

2) When wood decays the microorganisms eating it fart methane.  Methane is stronger GHG than CO2.

3) I live in an area where fuel buildup in the forests is a major problem.  It would be wonderful if there was an economical way to pull out the extra brush, limbs and trees that have been allowed to build up due to intentional fire suppression.  Right now it seems to be too labor and fossil fuel dependent.  Perhaps a bit later with automated harvesting/processing run with renewable energy. 

John Deere has build a six legged 'walking tractor' that is able to climb and work on some very steep grades.  I can envision a walking device that works its way through forests, culling unneeded trees/bushes, chopping them into chips, and handing them off to battery powered "runners" that haul the chips to collection points and bring freshly charged batteries to the harvester/chippers.

4) We need to do a lot more with solar cookers and methane digesters in areas where people now rely on firewood for cooking.  Using more natural gas is not a good idea.  We would need to continuously add forestland in order to suck back all the additional carbon we'd be added each year. 

What might help would be to introduce some fast growing species and creating wood lots for cooking purposes.  There are species of eucalyptus that will generate large amounts of wood in only eight years.   Will resprout from the stumps and produce the same amount of wood in four to five years.  A modest number of trees might produce enough wood for a family's cooking. 

I remember traveling in France a few decades back and seeing how farmers grew their stovewood along their fence lines.  They planted trees as 'living fence posts' and attached wire to them when the trees grew large enough.  Then they cut everything above off to use as wood.  The next spring the fence post would send up new shoots which would grow into firewood over a few years.  You could see where the farmer had cut the current year.  On one side of the cut was the previous year's harvested posts with their fresh shoots.  On the other side of the current cut was a row of trees with multiple vertical branches waiting to be cut for the following year's firewood.

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2019, 10:43:09 PM »
Hi Bob, nice to have you back in the forum.

The french way you describe is one of the best way to get firewood. You never cut a tree, and since roots are still there, regrowth works very well.

Regarding eucalyptus, it has a major problem regarding fire security, it burns too well, and is quite invasive. So I would be careful with that wood.

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2019, 10:58:57 PM »
Hi Bob, nice to have you back in the forum.

The french way you describe is one of the best way to get firewood. You never cut a tree, and since roots are still there, regrowth works very well.

Regarding eucalyptus, it has a major problem regarding fire security, it burns too well, and is quite invasive. So I would be careful with that wood.

But do remember - a new tree puts down new roots.  The carbon sequestered by the harvested tree remain underground and the new roots sequester more.  We generally overlook how plant root systems fix carbon in the soil as long as the roots are not disturbed.

Eucalyptus can be invasive, but easily controllable.  At least the species I've worked with.  I helped establish three firewood sites back in the 1980s and saw no problem of new eucalyptus springing up more than a short distance from those trees.  A quick walkthrough once a year with a hoe culled the volunteers. 

And there are other fast growing species that regenerate from the stump.  Populars are one.  Sweet chestnut is a species common in France.  Even some conifers regrow from stumps.  Christmas tree farms will cut the tree and leave a few inches of trunk.  From that stump new branches will emerge.  The multiple branches will be thinned to one which will then grow upright, creating a new Christmas tree to be harvested sooner that a new tree could be grown from a seedling.



TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2019, 09:07:40 AM »
You're referring to coppicing and pollarding. Practices that long predate the Romans in Europe, and may predate the earliest cities of the ANE.


The earliest herdsmen are thought to have captured wild goats and sheep as they migrated up and down the mountains in their own most natural quest for greener pastures. Our nascent pastoralists, dependent on little more complex than the stone hand axes handed down by their hominid predecessors, practiced natural pollarding as they girding trees at ~ shoulder height, felled them, then joined these tall stumps together with the coppiced sprouts and pollarded sprigs that arose from these endeavors.


By building these "fences" across the steep sided ravines that migrant beasts favored in their annual migrations herds were easily trapped, and with little additional effort permanent corrals were built, and added to generation by generation.
Archaeological evidence for very early pollarding still remains in the mountain passes of the Levant, and in Turkish foothills.

Coppicing was practiced by all of the basket making cultures in both the old and new worlds. Again a practice that may predate homo-sapiens. Again a practice that is a natural outgrowth of the earliest stone tool kits.


Sorry for the off topic digression. ::)
Terry


P.S.
Importing and planting groves of eucalyptus in California was a Get Rich Quick Scheme in the early days of steam. No one envisioned that the engines would be burning coal before the fast growing eucalyptus had time to mature.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 09:14:40 AM by TerryM »

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2019, 09:15:39 AM »
The eucalyptus grove that is now the UC San Diego campus was planted as a telephone/electricity pole source.  But someone sent the wrong species seed and not the kind that grows long and straight.

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2019, 09:16:44 AM »
Re: coppicing "a practice that may predate homo-sapiens"

do tell ?

sidd

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2019, 10:06:01 AM »
Re: coppicing "a practice that may predate homo-sapiens"

do tell ?

sidd


I did include "may".  :)  The "hand axes" associated with Homo Erectus for eons certainly seem purpose made for girding trees. Stump removal to preclude copse growth is a much more laborious task.
Our knowledge of Neanderthal's achievements is expanding. I've little doubt that our larger brained cousins were at least as capable as our own ancestors at basic woodcraft.
Terry

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2019, 01:09:44 PM »
What scares me when people talk of biomass as energy is that biomass might be even more important for wildlife, regenerating soil and food.

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2019, 01:14:12 PM »
It doesn't mean that I am against using it, but carefully, for example during the winter as stored solar energy.

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2019, 02:35:30 PM »
It doesn't mean that I am against using it, but carefully, for example during the winter as stored solar energy.
etienne
Assuming that wood does put a measurably larger strain on our carbon budget, why would this ever be a preferred solution, assuming that it's replacement isn't rare, more expensive or difficult to handle?


If forests have value that exceeds their use as a carbon extensive fuel why not expand the forests to maximize these values, rather than wasting them as a dirty energy source?


The Easter Islanders assumed that their forests would last forever - until the last tree was burned. In our hubris we see our islands as so much larger that we can afford to burn our forests. We won't run out of trees, but we may well exacerbate climate change with the "Green" substitution of less efficient, dirtier fuels.


Terry

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2019, 02:43:04 PM »
Just a general question:

Are we concerned the biomass number will go down with climate change in the long term? I mean, do we expect life to dwindle on volume/weight scale?

Because, i though, maybe it's a zero-sum game when we only look at this number. Of course, diversity will go down. But other species will take their place in general, no?

When a forest loses 99% of all it's species, don't we expect a similarly shaped forest to form containing only the 1% surviving species?

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2019, 04:22:21 PM »
I've attempted to find some figures for various fuels.


from https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/co2-emission-fuels-d_1085.html


CO2
CO2kg/kWh

Methane - - 0.18
Propane  - - 0.22
Coal hi-bit - 0.28
Anthracite - 0.37
Wood farm- 0.41

It appears that even Bob's hypothetical of 2/1 was too low!

How is it tenable to release 2.27 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere, and consider this to be environmentally responsible? We regularly & justifiably shame those burning coal, while commend those burning wood and/or wood pellets.

I live close to many acres of old growth forest, the older trees exceed 200 years in age.The lakes near by are presently harvested for logs that fell through weak ice hundreds of years ago, and that are now sought by craftsmen for their fine growth rings.
We've all seen slices of old redwood slabs where Napolean's death and Christ's birth were noted. English dated 8,000 year old stumps in Canada that had been rafted across a frozed arctic from Russia, and carbon dated wood dated to 40,000 years is extant.

All of the above demonstrate that if left unburned, much the wood wouldn't have released it's carbon for hundreds possibly thousands of years.
Burning this "renewable" fuel at a time when Mr. Keeling's Curve is reaching new heights is not sustainable.
Terry


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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2019, 04:27:16 PM »
Just a general question:

Are we concerned the biomass number will go down with climate change in the long term? I mean, do we expect life to dwindle on volume/weight scale?

Because, i though, maybe it's a zero-sum game when we only look at this number. Of course, diversity will go down. But other species will take their place in general, no?

When a forest loses 99% of all it's species, don't we expect a similarly shaped forest to form containing only the 1% surviving species?


Do deserts expand, or will rainforests proliferate?
Way beyond my pay grade. ???
Terry

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #34 on: June 30, 2019, 04:49:52 PM »
Way beyond my pay grade. ???

Yep, same here. Thanks for your answer anyway! :)

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #35 on: June 30, 2019, 06:04:07 PM »
Quote
How is it tenable to release 2.27 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere, and consider this to be environmentally responsible?

One has to divide carbon into two categories.

1) Carbon pulled out of below-surface sequestration.  Carbon that is stored away for 'eternity' unless we extract it.

2) Carbon that is already in the above surface carbon cycle.  Life depends on carbon, we use it for plant and animal growth.  When plants and animals die that carbon is released, mostly, into the atmosphere where it is available for the next generation of plants and animals.

Humans have made and continue to make a very large error.  We have pulled and continue to pull a lot of #1 carbon out of storage and turn it into #2 carbon.  Stopping and reversing that process is difficult.

Make sure you really understand that before reading further.  Unless you fully understand that pulling more carbon out of below surface sequestration is "evil" then biofuels won't make sense.

Now, do trees store some #2 carbon?  Sure. 

Would there be less carbon in our atmosphere and ocean if we left it there until they naturally decay and release their carbon into the atmosphere?  Sure.

But if we have to choose between extracting more #1 carbon and using some #2 carbon doesn't it make sense to avoid extracting more #1?  Does to me.  Our first job should be eliminating the extraction of #1 carbon and biofuels can help us reach zero #1 carbon faster than not using it.

If we reach some agreement on the need to stop extracting carbon from below surface storage I'll deal with the 2.27x.  If some think it better to extract more carbon from below the surface and adding it to the above surface carbon cycle then there's no reason to continue.


etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2019, 06:08:16 PM »
Assuming that wood does put a measurably larger strain on our carbon budget, why would this ever be a preferred solution, assuming that it's replacement isn't rare, more expensive or difficult to handle?
Well, there is something specific with fossil fuels, they are fossilized and safe in the ground. Once you take them out, you add CO2 in the atmosphere, which is not the case when you burn wood.

All of the above demonstrate that if left unburned, much the wood wouldn't have released it's carbon for hundreds possibly thousands of years.
Burning this "renewable" fuel at a time when Mr. Keeling's Curve is reaching new heights is not sustainable.
Terry

The Problem is the way CO2 emissions are calculated, and the way Countries are looking for quick wins. Concerning my use of wood, I only use local wood, which means no transport and circular economy.
Furthermore, my use of wood allows me to reduce room temperature and to reach easily comfort temperature in the house, so reduces my fossil fuel consumption of more than my wood consumption.

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2019, 06:34:03 PM »
Humans have made and continue to make a very large error.  We have pulled and continue to pull a lot of #1 carbon out of storage and turn it into #2 carbon.  Stopping and reversing that process is difficult.
Well, if we overuse fuelwood, we also destroy the possibility we have to do some carbon capture. Reducing  energy consumption is a fast and easy solution, but I don't see any Government going  that way, only some individuals agree with that concept, and only some of the ones that agree with it apply it.
Do we have time for the energy transition, or should we do like in the 1970's : first reduce consumption, then find new ways to have more energy ? Luxembourg has a crazy electricity generation project with fuelwood that would use yearly 80000 metric tons of wood.

Luxembourg has +- 500 000 inhabitants, so this is about yearly 160 kg of wood per person for electricity generation.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2019, 07:16:07 PM »
Humans have made and continue to make a very large error.  We have pulled and continue to pull a lot of #1 carbon out of storage and turn it into #2 carbon.  Stopping and reversing that process is difficult.
Well, if we overuse fuelwood, we also destroy the possibility we have to do some carbon capture. Reducing  energy consumption is a fast and easy solution, but I don't see any Government going  that way, only some individuals agree with that concept, and only some of the ones that agree with it apply it.
Do we have time for the energy transition, or should we do like in the 1970's : first reduce consumption, then find new ways to have more energy ? Luxembourg has a crazy electricity generation project with fuelwood that would use yearly 80000 metric tons of wood.

Luxembourg has +- 500 000 inhabitants, so this is about yearly 160 kg of wood per person for electricity generation.

 Reducing  energy consumption is a fast and easy solution but it is obviously not a solution that fixes our problem.  As you say, we haven't found a way to get most, or enough, individuals to cut their energy consumption to the point at which we could stop using fossil fuels.

I have absolutely zero expectation that we can solve our climate change problem via voluntary or Government mandated reductions in energy consumption.  I believe we have to find ways to cut fossil fuel use without asking people to make significant lifestyle changes or spend appreciably more money. 

I also believe that there are basically no perfect solutions. 

I support exchanging natural gas for coal because gas plants are very dispatchable and can be used to fill in for wind and solar while we develop cheap enough storage to replace gas.  Coal is not dispatchable.

I support using biofuel if it helps us reduce fossil fuel use.  I feel very strongly that we should not over harvest or cut old growth trees and trees in parks and wilderness areas.  But I'll support cutting every tree if that's what it takes to avoid very extreme climate change.  Afterall, very extreme climate change would kill all the trees anyway.

If Luxembourg has other options for generating electricity then I don't think Luxembourg should be using that much wood for fuel.  I don't know much about Luxembourg except that it's small.  Even small, seems like they could have solar roofs and import wind/hydro electricity from other countries.  I doubt they are growing all the wood they burn.  If you're going to import energy then import the "best" energy.

Perhaps it would help if we had a "goodness" ranking for electricity sources.  Let me offer a start...

A) Wind and solar.  Low cost and very few 'external' problems.
B) Run of river hydro.  Done correctly should create no environmental problems.  Not as cheap as wind/solar and site limited.
C) Methane from waste streams.  It's going to leave our sewage systems and waste dumps as methane.  Might as well use it as an energy source and release the carbon as a weaker greenhouse gas, CO2.
D) Dammed hydro.  Affordable but can create environmental problems.
E) Non-timber biofuels grown in a way that does not significantly impact food and fiber production and wildlife habitat.
F) Timber biofuel.  Because timber (logs) are temporary carbon storage devices.

Now, I just did that ranking off the top of my head.  I'm throwing it out for discussion, additions, and reranking based on things I might have missed.



TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2019, 01:05:28 PM »
Terry, A tree absorbs CO2 as it grows and releases it when it dies and decomposes or when it burns.
CH4 is buried in a different kind of carbon sink that takes thousands or tens of thousands of years to go  from CO2 to photosynthetic life to death,sedimentation ,burial, and bacterial decomposition . Keeping carbon in the longest termed carbon sinks requires we not dig it up and burn it. When we burn trees we are just recycling the carbon that exists in surface biomass on earth. When we burn fossil fuels we are dragging carbon out of deep long term carbon sinks and adding them to shorter term carbon sinks .
We can't ever put it back on human timescales. We can however plant and grow trees.
Bruce
I feel that your arguments are the most cogent thus far and I'd like to examine and respond to each statement.
"A tree absorbs CO2 as it grows and releases it when it dies and decomposes or when it burns."

A tree sequesters CO2 as long as it is growing, it retains the bulk of this carbon until it has burned, been consumed by herbivores, rotted or in rare cases agatized. Wood that hasn't been accidentally or deliberately burned cab retain carbon for a very long time, and trees that haven't been logged can live for hundreds of years - or more.
Left on it's own a tree may sequester carbon for >1 century, then retain most of it's carbon for another millennia.
Not bad for a humble seedling planted to alleviate our carbon stressed atmosphere.
Plant a Redwood or a Banyan or a Bristle Cone Pine every month and you've sequestered some serious carbon even if most of them don't survive. If upon death the wood is salvaged to build say a Japanese pagoda to rival Horyuji, and you've added another 1,300 years and counting to your "temporary carbon sink.
Something to consider when you throw another log on the fire.

"CH4 is buried in a different kind of carbon sink that takes thousands or tens of thousands of years to go  from CO2 to photosynthetic life to death,sedimentation ,burial, and bacterial decomposition."
CH4 comes in 2 flavors, the familiar biotic and the more recently proven abiotic.
Biotic might be minutes old such as cow flatulence, sewer gases, swamp gas or landfill out-gassing. It could be much older like the Methane trapped under the frozen permafrost underlying the ESAS, or even older as that trapped beneath salt domes in the Gulf of Mexico, the KSA or Canadian Tar Sands.
Abiotic CH4 is of indeterminate age as by definition it's not a fossil fuel but rather as much a part of the earth as the magma that the continents float on. The Soviets first envisioned abiotic gas and oil and to date they've done quite well in exploiting these resources.
CH4 then may be younger than a mayfly, or older than Burgess Shale.

"Keeping carbon in the longest termed carbon sinks requires we not dig it up and burn it."
I'd counter that with "Keeping carbon from the atmosphere requires that we utilize only the cleanest fuels available, those that release the least GHGs when burned."

"When we burn trees we are just recycling the carbon that exists in surface biomass on earth."
"When we burn trees we are increasing atmospheric carbon by 227% over what we would have released had we burned CH4". The atmosphere reacts identically regardless of the source of the CO2. There is no good additional atmospheric CO2 in these times.

"When we burn fossil fuels we are dragging carbon out of deep long term carbon sinks and adding them to shorter term carbon sinks."
Recalling that CH4 may be of any age, or abiotic.
"When we burn wood we are 1) removing an active carbon sequestering plant 2) releasing the carbon stored by this plant as rapidly as the fire consumes it 3)releasing 227% more carbon than our task requires."

"We can't ever put it back on human timescales. We can however plant and grow trees."
I totally agree that once it's up there we can't get it back in our lifetimes, so let's put less of it up there, plant and grow trees, and let them live to a ripe old age before salvaging the wood for long lasting structures that will stand long after we're gone.

Summary
Living plants are one of the few things that sequester large quantities of atmospheric carbon. The long lived species (trees) also are capable of storing the captured carbon for thousands? of years after their death, if we're careful not to burn them.

Why in the world would a rational being destroy a tree and release it's stored carbon when an equal amount of heat can be had from burning methane, or even propane while releasing less than half the carbon?
Terry

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #40 on: July 01, 2019, 07:01:14 PM »
Part of the 'formula' as to what is best to do 'now':
Big old trees grow faster, making them vital carbon absorbers
Quote
Large, older trees have been found to grow faster and absorb carbon dioxide more rapidly than younger, smaller trees, despite the previous view that trees’ growth slowed as they developed.

Research published in the journal Nature [in January 2014] shows that in 97% of tropical and temperate tree species, growth rate increases with size. This suggests that older trees play a vital role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

More recently:
The impact of tree age on biomass growth and carbon accumulation capacity: A retrospective analysis using tree ring data of three tropical tree species grown in natural forests of Suriname - Published online 2017 Aug 16
Quote
Abstract
The world’s forests play a pivotal role in the mitigation of global climate change. By photosynthesis they remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store carbon in their biomass. While old trees are generally acknowledged for a long carbon residence time, there is no consensus on their contribution to carbon accumulation due to a lack of long-term individual tree data. Tree ring analyses, which use anatomical differences in the annual formation of wood for dating growth zones, are a retrospective approach that provides growth patterns of individual trees over their entire lifetime. We developed time series of diameter growth and related annual carbon accumulation for 61 trees of the species Cedrela odorata L. (Meliacea), Hymenaea courbaril L. (Fabacea) and Goupia glabra Aubl. (Goupiacea). The trees grew in unmanaged tropical wet-forests of Suriname and reached ages from 84 to 255 years. Most of the trees show positive trends of diameter growth and carbon accumulation over time. For some trees we observed fluctuating growth—periods of lower growth alternate with periods of increased growth. In the last quarter of their lifetime trees accumulate on average between 39 percent (C. odorata) and 50 percent (G. glabra) of their final carbon stock. This suggests that old-growth trees in tropical forests do not only contribute to carbon stocks by long carbon resistance times, but maintain high rates of carbon accumulation at later stages of their life time.

On a related matter, how quickly does a dead tree typically return its carbon to the environment?
When a Tree Falls in a Forest
Quote
...
In woods stretching from Minnesota to Maine in the north and from Louisiana to Georgia in the south, technicians catalogued every downed log they found. They ranked each log on a scale of one to five, from freshly fallen to badly decomposed, and then returned to the same forests five years later to revisit and reassess. Using these figures, the researchers were able to create a model of decay for 36 different species of trees. “Some people said it couldn’t be done,” said Woodall, “but we did it.”

The computer model calculates that the “residence times” (how long a tree will take to completely decompose) for conifer species range from 57 to 124 years, while hardwood species are typically around on the forest floor for 46 to 71 years. Warmer, more humid environments promote faster decay than cooler, drier climates.
...
(interesting comments in article, too)
Arctic ice is healthy for children and other living things.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #41 on: July 01, 2019, 08:17:15 PM »
"Completely decompose" is misleading.  Most of the mass of the Douglas firs around here goes away in short years.  The 'skeletal remains' can stick around for a long time.  Cellulose, I would assume.  I'm currently watching a half dozen Dougs that died within the last five years (drought and beetles) fall to pieces from where I sit and type.  There are two straight out my window that just finished dying last year and the tops are already rotting away.  As they stand.

If you don't go out and drop those trees for firewood within a year or two after they die most of the mass is gone. 

Oaks can hang on longer as long as they don't fall.  Once on the ground they soon turn into what looks like a log but isn't safe to stand on, the interior is gone to microbe farts.

Be careful about talking about long term carbon storage in trees, then using the most extremely long living and rot resistant species to bolster your argument.

But all that said, we must stop extracting carbon and adding to our global warming problem.  If biofuels help us cut fossil fuel use that is a net gain. 

be cause

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2019, 08:34:06 PM »
just passed our local biofuel landscape worth £millions in subsidy to the Earl of Caledon . Fields sprayed with roundup for the second time this year being ploughed by huge turbo-tractors guzzling subsidised diesel by the tankerload . Great to be rich and green these days . Of course the UK are boasting how this subsidised horror is the answer to all our problems .
  The land used to sustain 1000's of wetland birds in winter followed by summer grazing. Not any more ... b.c.
2007 + 5 = 2012 + 4 = 2016 + 3 = 2019 ...

TerryM

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2019, 08:53:46 PM »
Anecdotally I live a long way east of you Bob. The village I grew up in was a late bloomer and the land wasn't cleared until 1810. "Stump fences" - tree stumps dragged across a clearing and left horizontally to keep the livestock penned in or out are still extant >200 years after they'd been felled. And they're still climbable. ::)
Half a dozen homes large frame homes have perhaps another hundred years left in them and were built from wood cleared to allow agriculture.
Not particularly rot resistant - oak, maple, even some chestnut, but all show homes now that will be around for this generation's grandkids.
Our home was brick, but the original builder had the Province plant 6,000 seedling on the 6 acre lot. They're ~100 years old today & appear to be healthy and well cared for.
How old do you thing the Douglas firs are that you say have so recently died?
Terry


Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2019, 09:23:47 PM »
Anecdotally I live a long way east of you Bob. The village I grew up in was a late bloomer and the land wasn't cleared until 1810. "Stump fences" - tree stumps dragged across a clearing and left horizontally to keep the livestock penned in or out are still extant >200 years after they'd been felled. And they're still climbable. ::)
Half a dozen homes large frame homes have perhaps another hundred years left in them and were built from wood cleared to allow agriculture.
Not particularly rot resistant - oak, maple, even some chestnut, but all show homes now that will be around for this generation's grandkids.
Our home was brick, but the original builder had the Province plant 6,000 seedling on the 6 acre lot. They're ~100 years old today & appear to be healthy and well cared for.
How old do you thing the Douglas firs are that you say have so recently died?
Terry

The lumber in houses is not laying on the ground year round.    My land was logged in 1986 but it was selectively logged.  I would imagine my largest firs are 40 to 50 years old.  There are a lot of one, five, ten, fifteen, ... year old dead trees. 

What you are missing IMHO Terry is that we need to stop extracting carbon via fossil fuels.  We just plain need to stop adding to our above surface carbon stock.

Past that we should discuss the best alternatives for fossil fuels.  But let's make sure we aren't trying to argue for more fossil fuel use.

etienne

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2019, 10:06:02 PM »
If you look at the industrial revolution, you can see that fossil fuels were needed because there was just not enough biomass to power it. Now we hope to keep our living standard with just renewable, and my worry is that biomass is the only stored renewable energy, so we might try to use it above renewability, and that would be one more of the many catastrophes coming along with climate change and supporting the species extinction. Part of the biomass has to stay in and on the ground to keep the soil alive.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2019, 10:28:47 PM »
If you look at the industrial revolution, you can see that fossil fuels were needed because there was just not enough biomass to power it. Now we hope to keep our living standard with just renewable, and my worry is that biomass is the only stored renewable energy, so we might try to use it above renewability, and that would be one more of the many catastrophes coming along with climate change and supporting the species extinction. Part of the biomass has to stay in and on the ground to keep the soil alive.

No energy source/technology is perfect.  We have to figure out the downsides of each and see if we can tolerate the downside and that has to be done within the context of fossil fuel use and global warming.  We have to keep in mind that losing the war against climate change may mean the destruction of most forests and the extinction of many millions of species of plants and animals.

Is there a role, perhaps a temporary role, that biofuel can play today that lets us decrease fossil fuel use today?

Is there a long term role for biofuel in which the downsides of biofuel would be benign?  A role in which biofuel would be the best/least problematic solution of all available renewable options?

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #47 on: July 01, 2019, 11:42:57 PM »
When I lived in a low-particulate-emissions-wood-cook-stove-heated house in New Hampshire, most of the wood I used (~8 cords/yr) was Beech which had broken due to a fungal disease.  I did cut a couple live trees shading my roof-top solar array beyond what was cleared for house, parking area, garden and septic system (and the 3-story off-grid house was on a south-facing slope, so those were two big tall hardwoods [20 and 30 inch diameters, I recall]).  I used a tiny portion of my 20 acres for firewood production.  Hornbeam was interesting as it burned hot and more slowly than any other wood [bread-baking wood], and nearly never 'fell' when it died, but stood there held up by the branches of Beech, rotting only where it contacted the ground.  I didn't need a gym those days to keep fit!
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Ken Feldman

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #48 on: July 02, 2019, 12:19:25 AM »
If you look at the industrial revolution, you can see that fossil fuels were needed because there was just not enough biomass to power it. Now we hope to keep our living standard with just renewable, and my worry is that biomass is the only stored renewable energy, so we might try to use it above renewability, and that would be one more of the many catastrophes coming along with climate change and supporting the species extinction. Part of the biomass has to stay in and on the ground to keep the soil alive.

You may want to look into biochar.

Tom_Mazanec

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Re: Biomass issues
« Reply #49 on: September 24, 2019, 09:09:11 PM »
Fire Power
What if the answer to California's wildfire woes is more fire?
https://grist.org/article/why-california-is-fighting-fire-with-fire/
Quote
These wood-fired plants produce what’s known as biomass energy. Biomass is just the general term for grass, dung, corn, or anything else containing energy (soaked up from sunlight) stored in chains of carbon (soaked up from the air). By burning biomass, you release the sun’s energy in the form of heat and light. But you also release its carbon back into the atmosphere.

That’s one of the reasons it’s controversial as hell. Environmentalists have long fought to block biomass power plants. Turning trees into electricity seems to violate the basic tenets of tree hugging. There’s a thorny debate over whether biomass energy can really be considered clean or renewable. But there’s no doubt that biomass plants can be environmental disasters when run improperly. After all, producing electricity by burning wood produces more carbon and pollution per kilowatt than burning coal, the Sierra Club points out. The group’s California branch recently plastered billboards with the anti-biomass message, “A tree is a great life source, not an energy source.” Which makes the fact that some deep-green activists are campaigning to build wood-burning power plants in their own backyards all the more surprising.

SHARKS (CROSSED OUT) MONGEESE (SIC) WITH FRICKIN LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS