Biomass and Carbon Accounting- Two Letters and a Powerpoint

Found these on the Society of American Foresters Policy website here. First, there’s a link to a powerpoint by Al Lucier on biomass and carbon.

Then there are two letters to the House and Senate, signed by a group of scientists, including this quote:

A consortium of research institutions has, over the last decade, developed life cycle measures of all inputs and all outputs associated with the ways that we use wood: a thorough environmental footprint of not just managing the forest, but harvesting, transportation, producing products or biofuels, buildings or other products, maintenance and their ultimate disposal. 4 Results of this research are clear. When looking across the carbon life cycle, biomass burning does produce some fossil fuel emissions from harvesting, transportation, feedstock preparation and processing. These impacts, however, are substantially more than offset by eliminating the emissions from using a fossil fuel. Sustainable removals of biomass feedstocks used for energy produce a reduction in carbon emissions year after year through a reduction in fossil fuel emissions far greater than all of the emissions from feedstock collection and processing. When wood removals are used to produce both renewable materials as well as bio-energy, the carbon stored in forest products continues to grow year after year, more than off-setting any processing emissions while at the same time permanently substituting for fossil fuel intensive materials displacing their emissions.

Finally, biomass power facilities generally contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases beyond just the displacement of fossil fuels. The use of forest fuels in a modern boiler also eliminates the methane (CH4) emissions from incomplete oxidation following open burning, land filling, or decomposition which occurs in the absence of a higher and better use for this material. Methane is a 25 times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. In contrast, the mining of coal and exploration for oil and gas release significant amounts of methane and other harmful pollutants into the environment. Any modeling to examine the impact of carbon-based fuel sources must account for all of these impacts.

Now, think about the scientists who signed this letter and the analytical suggestions in the Angora lawsuit for NEPA. Perhaps lawsuits, as well as scientific papers, would be best informed by a vigorous public debate over knowledge claims.

9 thoughts on “Biomass and Carbon Accounting- Two Letters and a Powerpoint”

  1. Sharon, it’s clear you’re intent is to stimulate vigorous public debate but all you’re providing is the sound of one hand clapping here.
    Perhaps vested interests aren’t the best sole source for getting to the heart of the science on this matter without at least including contrasting conclusions coming from perhaps more objective sources?

    For instance,

    As climate change legislation has shown us, “vigorous public debate” yields little in the way of effectual responses.

  2. It would prove interesting to take all those who signed one of the letters Sharon cited (pdf) and put them in a room with those who signed the letter David cited (pdf), give them good bathroom facilities, plenty of water and meager food rations and let them seek insight and/or agreements via dialogue for say a week.

    Better still, set them up as a group of jurors in the lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Earth Island Institute identified in Sharon’s previous post. Or maybe force them to participate in a blog on forest carbon wars for, say, a year.

    Interesting times! I suspect that these “carbon sequestration wars” will be the public lands version of the science wars that continue to rage over so-called “anthropogenic global warming,” i.e. human-caused global warming (Wikipedia link). And, of course, the “carbon wars” intertwine with the latter.

      • As I was laying in bed last night, I thought I might have grabbed the wrong word. Probably should have gone for “human-caused.” When I got up and fired up my I realized I was right with anthropogenic (the other choice being anthropomorphic), but wrong in going for the fancier word form. But it does make for an interesting twist if we use anthropomorphic in its older definition and blame such fire origin on the gods, masquerading as humans. I also realized after reading your comment that I had not clarified my use of “so-called. fixed it!

        And no, I really do believe we humans have pretty much “shit in our nest” w/r/t AGW, and ACC (anthropogenic climate change). In the process we are destroying the biodiversity of the planet via the next great extinction which may well end our so-called civilization as per Lester Brown and others apocalyptic warnings.

        PS. As I searched NCFP for “AGW” I found this post from Nov. 2010 (from Sharon) that’s relevant, titled: Michael Hulme’s Six Climate Frames. We could use it a better starting point for the discussions we are attempting in these last two posts.

  3. The forest management deniers claim that “climate change” is responsible for dead forests while, at the same time, contend that today’s dead forests are “natural”, and are not out of the range of natural variability. You cannot have it both ways, and we all know that forests are overstocked, and not of historical species composition. There is a fundamental disconnect here, as all of that cannot possibly be true.

    Yep, the deniers are now blaming foresters for more “climate change”, and denying that our forests are in bad shape. Their solution is to do exactly nothing, disregarding megatons of GHG’s. Yep, if only we could magically fix “climate change” we’d have rainforests throughout the west *smirk*

    • it’s sure nice to have Fotoware explain what other people are thinking. why bother to have a discussion when the words and thoughts from one viewpoint are provided by another person with a different viewpoint.

      • Someone has to stand up to the misinformation splayed about in the mainstream media. It is wonderful that you can come here, tree, and learn about the real world of forestry and forests. It is very clear that eco-groups have their own “operatives” in the MSM. One never sees the other very significant issues (overstocking, species composition, overaged lodgepoles) in articles about dying and dead forests. In fact, the media likes to blame all environmental damages on “global warming” or “climate change”, despite forests being so very far from historical conditions.

  4. Also, notice the new article in New West about wood as a “green” building material. Of course, the extremists will immediately discount any study done by the Forest Service.

  5. Its enevitable there will always be extreme views and actions on topics related to energy sources – on both sides of the argument. Surely the only approach is to find a balance; to include different energy solutions in a portfolio of diverse energy sources.


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