Week 11: Mountain Forests in British Columbia

There’s a quite shocking interactive map showing just how much of the primary forest in British Columbia has been lost to logging in this article. It ‘reveals that little remains of B.C.’s original and ancient forests, showing logging and other industrial human activity as a vast sea of red.’

What i find most disturbing is that a significant amount of logging is to produce wood pellets, which, owing to to a loophole in UN climate change conventions, are seen as a renewable source of energy. Many reports have shown that burning biomass in the form of wood pellets is very damaging to the environment and could lead to accelerated climate change. See here for the effects on European forests.

Drax, one of the UK’s leading energy companies which is heavily investing in burning wood pellets by converting coal power stations to wood pellet burning ones, recently bought British Columbia’s largest wood pellet producer, Pinnacle. Burning trees in the form of wood pellets, primarily from Canada and the US, now accounts for over 11% of the UK’s energy supply and has led its government to propagate how green they are.

The harvesting of old growth forests to burn as ‘renewables’ seems wrong.

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Biomass energy is a big subject but I agree, cutting down virgin forest seems bad for almost any reason since we have so little left.

Here’s a pretty good article on the pros and cons of biomass energy. It may be better than coal, but still lots of room for improvement!

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2019 documentary Planet of the Humans discusses biomass as a poor solution to green energy . Surprisingly this film produced by Michael Moore.

Thnx. The article is EXCELLENT. It’s now saved on my reread list

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Interesting article. I like how Drax say they are only burning wood pellets made from ‘residues and waste’, when the evidence strongly shows otherwise. Drax are quite famous for greenwashing their activities. In January 2018, 796 scientists wrote to the European Parliament urging it to amend RED to restrict eligible forest biomass to appropriately defined residues and wastes, “because the fates of much of the world’s forests and the climate are literally at stake.”
As a number of reports have shown, virgin forests are being cut down in the US and Canada to feed biomass burning. See here, here and here, as well as here for the destruction of Estonian and Latvian forests for wood pellets.

In theory burning biomass should be carbon neutral, but in practice it isn’t, and it’s also devastating for biodiversity. Even if plantation forests replace those being logged for wood pellets, it’s been modeled that there will be large carbon increases in the atmosphere for 40+ years from burning biomass, which isn’t the way we should be heading if we’re serious about lessening the impacts of climate change.

In February this year, 100s of scientists signed a joint letter to Joe Biden, and other world leaders calling the burning of wood pellets as bioenergy ‘a false solution’ and saying ‘Trees are more valuable alive than dead both for climate and for biodiversity. To meet future net zero emission goals, your governments should work to preserve and restore forests and not to burn them’

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