Save The Earth – Burn The Trees


For thousands of years mankind relied on the power of wood. According to Dr. James Hansen of NASA, the scientist who warned of the impending climate crisis back in the 80s, it is time we considered returning to wood power to save the planet.

My great-grandparents had the epitome of wood power in their house. In the kitchen they used a wood cook stove with a double oven and several burners. Ma Roberts could bring one pot to a full boil while one nearby sat and simmered. She could bake a cake while keeping the biscuits warm. A century ago, that was high tech.

The tech that replaced hers was that of the electric grid, the power of coal. The power of coal gave her electric convenience. A refrigerator instead of an ice box. An electric stove with ovens included. Electric heat instead of a wood stove or fireplace. And air conditioning, the invention of the century.

And even though we plugged it all in, the power was coming straight from coal fired power plants. For most of us, it still does. But according to Dr. James Hansen of NASA, it is time we moved on from coal. It seems that, according to his latest studies, if we eliminated all the coal electric generating plants in the world and replaced them with wood, we could probably avert most of the worst-case scenarios caused by global warming.

From The Independent, based in the UK (emphasis mine):

Twenty years ago, Professor James Hansen was the first leading scientist to announce that global warming was taking place. Now he has issued a warning that a back-to-the-future return to one of the oldest fuels is imperative because the world has exceeded the danger level for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Growing trees, which absorb the gas from the air as they grow, burning them instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity, and capturing and storing the carbon produced in the process is needed to get the greenhouse effect down to safe levels, he says.

Professor Hansen’s assertion that there is too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will alarm governments and environmentalists, who are concentrating on the already daunting task of limiting its build-up, while allowing it to rise well above present levels. However, his views will command respect because, as director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for the past 27 years, he has been one of the few climate scientists ready to risk his reputation by openly stating what many suspect to be true.

And from Columbia University, a quick summary of part of the study (emphasis mine all mine):

…Kharecha and Hansen devised five emissions scenarios spanning the years 1850 to 2100. Each reflects a different estimate for the global production peak of fossil fuels, the timing of which depends on reserve size, recoverability and available technology. “Even if we assume high-end estimates and unconstrained emissions from conventional oil and gas, we find that these fuels alone are not abundant enough to take carbon dioxide above 450 parts per million,” Kharecha said.

The first scenario estimates CO2 levels if emissions from fossil fuels follow “business as usual,” growing 2 percent annually until half of each reservoir has been recovered. After this, emissions begin to decline by 2 percent annually. In the second scenario, emissions from coal are reduced, first by developed countries starting in 2013, and then by developing countries a decade later, leading to a global phaseout of emissions by 2050. The phaseout could come either from reducing coal consumption or by capturing and trapping CO2 from coal burning before it reaches the air.

The remaining three scenarios include the phaseout of coal, but consider different scenarios for oil use and supply. One case considers a delay in the oil peak by about 21 years to 2037. Another considers fewer-than-expected additions to currently proven reserves, or taxes on emissions that makes fuels too expensive to extract. The final scenario looks at emissions from oil fields that peak at different times, extending the peak into a plateau that lasts from 2020-2040.

The team used a mathematical model to convert CO2 emissions from each scenario into estimates of future concentrations in the atmosphere. The “business as usual” scenario resulted in CO2 that would exceed 450 parts per million from by 2035, and climb to more than double the pre-industrial level. Even when low-end estimates of reserves were assumed, the threshold was exceeded from about 2050 onwards. However, the other four scenarios resulted in CO2 levels that peaked in various years, but all fell below the prescribed cap of 450 parts per million by about 2080 at the latest. Levels in two of the scenarios always stayed below the threshold.

Clean Coal

There is no such thing. The chances of a ‘clean-coal’ technology being developed in the near future is practically zero. Robert Kennedy Jr talks about the myth of clean coal, the reality of inexpensive alternatives, and the future of fossil industries with no government subsidies. (Hint: It’s a short future.)

Kennedy isn’t the only one speaking out against the myth of ‘clean coal’. A quick google search for the term reveals a huge amount of information. The truth is, it’s time to move on. It’s time to stop talking about it and do something.

The Rockefellers won’t like it, but hey, they had their day. If they play their cards right, they’ll still be in the fun. After all, it can’t be too hard to convert a power plant from coal to wood, and if the Rockefellas have been planting trees where they’re supposed to, they should have all the raw materials they need to just go with the flow.

Real Clean Energy

Real, clean energy is all around us, and we do have the technology to capture it and put it to use. There are countries in the world that get less than 10% of their energy from fossil fuels. Instead they use a combination of other things, mostly renewables like wind, water or the sun.

We need to start building out these wind farms. We need to start growing these passive solar arrays. We need some reasonable electric vehicles, and laws to make it personally better for each of us to own one.

We need to stop thinking in terms of how all this is going to impact the economy. In case you haven’t noticed, the economy is toxic waste no matter how you slice it or dice it. Switching from a fossil economy to a sustainable economy might be just what we need to save ourselves, economically as well as physically.

After all, we don’t have any time left to think about it. Don’t forget, the arctic sea routes were free of ice for the 1st time in human history this decade. For the first time in at least 125,000 years. That is a huge wake-up call.

Besides, I remember Ma Roberts’ stovecooked biscuits from scratch. Mmmmm…