Who would have thunk it? Standing trees better than burning ones

English: Forest on the Fichtelberg in Saxony, ...

English: Forest on the Fichtelberg in Saxony, Germany. Deutsch: Wald auf dem Fichtelberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Duke University and the Department of Obvious Science  comes this study partially funded by NASA:

Standing trees better than burning ones for carbon neutrality

DURHAM, N.C. — The search for alternatives to fossil fuels has prompted growing interest in the use of wood, harvested directly from forests, as a carbon-neutral energy source.

But a new study by researchers at Duke and Oregon State universities finds that leaving forests intact so they can continue to store carbon dioxide and keep it from re-entering the atmosphere will do more to curb climate change over the next century than cutting and burning their wood as fuel.

“Substituting woody bioenergy for fossil fuels isn’t an effective method for climate change mitigation,” said Stephen R. Mitchell, a research scientist at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Wood stores only about half the amount of carbon-created energy as an equivalent amount of fossil fuels, he explained, so you have to burn more of it to produce as much energy.

“In most cases, it would take more than 100 years for the amount of energy substituted to equal the amount of carbon storage achieved if we just let the forests grow and not harvest them at all,” he said.

Mitchell is lead author of the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy. Mark E. Harmon and Kari E. O’Connell of Oregon State University co-authored the study.

Using an ecosystem simulation model developed at Oregon State, the team calculated how long it would take to repay the carbon debt – the net reduction in carbon storage – incurred by harvesting forests for wood energy under a variety of different scenarios.

Their model accounted for a broad range of harvesting practices, ecosystem characteristics and land-use histories. It also took into account varying bioenergy conversion efficiencies, which measure the amount of energy that woody biomass gives off using different energy-generating technologies.

“Few of our combinations achieved carbon sequestration parity in less than 100 years, even when we set the bioenergy conversion factor at near-maximal levels,” Harmon said. Because wood stores less carbon-created energy than fossil fuels, you have to harvest, transport and burn more of it to produce as much energy. This extra activity produces additional carbon emissions.

“These emissions must be offset if forest bioenergy is to be used without adding to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the near-term,” he said.

Performing partial harvests at a medium to low frequency – every 50 to 100 years or so – could be an effective strategy, O’Connell noted, but would generate less bioenergy.

“It’s a Catch-22,” she said. “Less intensive methods of harvesting release fewer emissions but yield less energy. The most intensive methods, such as clear-cutting, produce more energy but also release more carbon back into the atmosphere, prolonging the time required to achieve carbon sequestration parity.”

Given current economic realities and the increasing worldwide demand for forest products and land for agriculture, it’s unlikely that many forests will be managed in coming years solely for carbon storage, Mitchell said, but that makes it all the more critical that scientists, resource managers and policymakers work together to maximize the carbon storage potential of the remaining stands.

“The take-home message of our study is that managing forests for maximal carbon storage can yield appreciable, and highly predictable, carbon mitigation benefits within the coming century,” Mitchell said. “Harvesting forests for bioenergy production would require such a long time scale to yield net benefits that it is unlikely to be an effective avenue for climate-change mitigation.”

###

The research was funded by a NASA New Investigator Program grant to Kari O’Connell, by the H.J. Andrews Long-term Ecological Research Program, and by the Kay and Ward Richardson Endowment.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Carbon sequestration, Obvious science and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

119 Responses to Who would have thunk it? Standing trees better than burning ones

  1. HalfEmpty says:

    Please put me down in favor of trees standing, but not swaying.

  2. ChE says:

    This required an academic study?

  3. Rob L says:

    If CAGW were a real problem then one of the easiest solutions would be to bulldoze and bury large tracks of forests. Quick, effective, but anaethema to the green movement.

  4. cirby says:

    If they want good long-term carbon capture, how about growing trees, cutting them down, and burying them in old strip mines? Two for the price of one.

    Even better: outlaw paper recycling. Just require that all paper products must be buried in deep landfills.

  5. Interstellar Bill says:

    All this pious hand-wringing for a non-worry: CO2, a third-order ‘forcing’, beefed up in a padded super-villain costume & paraded to the world as the latest Wizard-of-Oz-style midget-behind-the-curtain.

  6. Lady Life Grows says:

    I don’t want carbon neutrality. I am a carbon-based life form and I like other carbon-based life forms especially people.

    MORE carbon-dioxide from long-buried fuels will mean more trees, more crops, more people, more polar bears, more whales, more butterflies… more life.

    ONLY fossil fuels give more Life. I want fossils!

  7. Chris B says:

    Universities do not seem to be an efficient use of energy.

  8. Green Sand says:

    Can’t see the wood for the trees!

  9. Gail Combs says:

    “The take-home message of our study is that managing forests for maximal carbon storage can yield appreciable, and highly predictable, carbon mitigation benefits within the coming century,” Mitchell said. “Harvesting forests for bioenergy production would require such a long time scale to yield net benefits that it is unlikely to be an effective avenue for climate-change mitigation.”

    Read: we now want to regulate forest too.

    In the state of NC you can not claim woodlands as “Farms” (Taxed less) unless you HIRE a professional forester to “Manage” your woodlands! /snarl

  10. Long past time to bring back the Golden Fleece Award.

  11. George says:

    Oh, Oh, Oh! Can I get my grants? I want to study if green trees are more carbon negative than brown ones. I want to study if slow growth trees are less carbon neutral than fast growth trees. I want to study if dead wood is more carbon neutral than petrified wood. I want to study if grass is more carbon neutral than a Prius. Where are my checks?

  12. chris y says:

    The next 3 year study will investigate the labeling of wood furniture and housing structures as carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

  13. Robbie says:

    Wow! These scientists need computer models to find out that standing trees are better than burning them for carbon neutrality.
    Everyone knows that a standing tree is a carbon storage device. If you burn that tree all the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2.
    If humans want to do something about CO2 reduction they should plant trees instead of burning them.

  14. johnmcguire says:

    I have heard more than enough talk about reasons for hugging trees instead of utilizing them. Sustainable logging has been in general practice for several generations now and is the proper way to use the resource. I burn wood for heating and it is my sole source of heat. After we do our sustainable logging every year we turn the slash and trash trees into fire wood and are usualy able to sell some of it for income. We immeadiately replant and the replacements are soon sucking up the carbon as they grow to renew the cycle.

  15. pat says:

    These fools can piss away more money than anyone could have imagined. They could have asked a kindergarten class for the answer. But my guess is that they knew the answer; they just want an embargo on fireplaces or use of industrial wood fuel, which is very developed in Oregon.

  16. mfo says:

    I think the energy comparisons are something like: 23.5 tons dry wood = 6.15 tons coal = 30 barrels oil = 1.86 grams. uranium pellet.

  17. Ken in Beaverton, OR says:

    Partially funded by NASA! Were they thinking of using wood to launch rockets? What ever happened to common sense??

  18. Ed, "Mr." Jones says:

    SHNO HIT?

    Duh!

    Unbelievable.

  19. James Sexton says:

    Fantastic, they found out there’s more energy density in fossil fuels than wood. Welcome to the 18th century boys.

  20. Dr. Bob says:

    This issue has been debated a lot over the years. The Manomet study out of Mass. concluded something similar. However, no one takes into account the fact that forests burn if not managed (harvested) properly. In Canada, roughly 2 million hectares burn each year compared to 1 million harvested. The reason for harvesting is beyond creating jobs, it is about preserving the ecosystem. It takes 100 years for a burned forest to recover, much like it takes about 60 years for a harvested forest to regenerate the wood product that was harvested (rough numbers). This is a sustainable source of products that maintains biodiversity by keeping the forest from becoming a climax forest that is essentially ecologically stagnate.
    Canadian Forests are the best managed in the world. There are several documents on forest management at http://www.ccfm.org/english/index.asp. NGO’s, government and foresters have signed off on these practices. They are sustainable.
    As previous WUWT articles have discussed, letting a forest burn produces more mercury emissions than coal fired power plants, so harvesting a forest to control fire helps in ways that are not discussed in this study. This is a very complex subject that is treated as a simple problem by many academics.

  21. David Jones says:

    Chris B says:
    May 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm
    Universities do not seem to be an efficient use of energy.

    Universities do not seem to be an efficient use of MONEY!!!

  22. dccowboy says:

    This is a major ‘duh’ study. All you have to do is consider the ‘soot’ component from burning wood to know that leaving them standing is the better idea.

  23. dccowboy says:

    chris y says:
    May 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    The next 3 year study will investigate the labeling of wood furniture and housing structures as carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

    =========

    And this particular study will onlt cost the taxpayers $35 milllion.

  24. Milwaukee Bob says:

    Chris B said at 2:45 pm
    Universities do not seem to be an efficient use of energy.

    …or grant $$$$!

  25. Jimbo says:

    How about a study showing the effects of increased co2 to 1,000 ppm on tomato plants in greenhouses. We kinda know the answer but hey, the money is out there. This is just one of the sad effects of over-funding for these fools.

    We must act now!!! Co2 is at unprecedented levels, those poor, midget dinosaurs and ferns.
    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image277.gif

  26. Ian H says:

    This paper seems to suffer a case of fatal confusion between the idea of using wood to substitute for fossil fuels and the idea of using wood to sequester carbon. The two are completely different, with different objectives and incompatible strategies. The paper offers a confused mishmash skipping back and forth between them as if they were the same thing. No wonder it doesn’t make sense.

  27. I was astonished to read the other day that the UK plans to convert coal fire power stations to biomass and import much of the biomass, since they don’t have enough themselves. Canada and Australia were mentioned as sources.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/25/us-britain-biomass-power-idUSBRE84O0WR20120525

    Shipping low a density energy source from the other side of the world. What a great idea (NOT).

    When you think this thing can’t get more idiotic, it does.

  28. Robert Gee says:

    This is one of those OMG moments. People got paid for this?

  29. Gunga Din says:

    Interstellar Bill says:
    May 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm
    All this pious hand-wringing for a non-worry: CO2, a third-order ‘forcing’, beefed up in a padded super-villain costume & paraded to the world as the latest Wizard-of-Oz-style midget-behind-the-curtain.
    =============================================================================
    So would Hansen or Mann play the Wizard of COz?

  30. R. Shearer says:

    Even driving Fred Flintstone mobiles will not mitigate climate change.

  31. Jimbo says:

    David V Goliath is the reason for studies like the above. A well funded Climate Liarlist machine.
    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/05/does-climate-money-matter-is-a-monopoly-good-for-a-market/

  32. Gunga Din says:

    Ken in Beaverton, OR says:
    May 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm
    Partially funded by NASA! Were they thinking of using wood to launch rockets? What ever happened to common sense??
    =========================================================
    Since berylium spheres and dilithium are in short supply they’re doing research into treelithium. Apparently, it’s not going to well. More green is needed.

  33. Urederra says:

    Our civilization is in decline.

    What this Stephen guy majored in? I hope it wasn´t in biology or chemistry. I cannot believe that a person who studied plant physiology can talk seriously about carbon neutrality. And he gets a grant to study that.

    Anybody who knows a little bit about plant physiology should know that CO2 is scarce. That is why RuBISco, the CO2 harvesting enzyme, is the most abundant enzyme on Earth. (Well, because of that and because it is really slow at fixing CO2)

  34. I look forward to the day when it is generally realized that “emissions” are not worth consideration and that radiation is not the only means of heat transfer.

    IanM

  35. Tom in Florida says:

    So is it better to pick up dead wood lying on the ground and burn it or let it decompose naturally?
    Did someone say “pass us some more grant money and we’ll find out” ?

  36. Bob Tisdale says:

    “Who would have thunk it? Standing trees better than burning ones”

    Anthony, that has got to be one of your best headlines ever. I read it. I laughed. I closed the page. I opened it and laughed again. I’m still smiling. It’s perfect.

  37. Meyer says:

    Be nice. Not every professor is blessed with a 100+ IQ, but they still have to publish something.

  38. eyesonu says:

    Huh? … a university study?

    Some of these people will hold positions of influence in the future. That is a shocking realization.

    Let’s save the world for the grandkids. Well if this is an indication of what the grandkids produce in university studies, then it can’t be saved.

  39. John Silver says:

    Wow!
    They have figured out how photosynthesis works!

  40. James of the West says:

    The whole premise of burning every bit of the tree is stupid. Sawmillers can sequester carbon in homes and furnishings for hundreds of years offsetting emissions from use of alternatives such as plastics and steel – the sawdust and chips byproduct from sawmilling could be burnt for energy or even gassified (wood producer gas) and used to power vehicles. Every cycle of forest growth in this model sequesters more and more carbon in our homes in the form of wood and the growing trees take more carbon from the air than a mature forest.

  41. Dave Worley says:

    Younger trees sequester more carbon than older trees.

    Why not harvest them when they are mature and build something with them? Construction contributes to the economy and improves society. Maybe that’s why the study could not consider that option. Some corporation or small business might make a profit from construction. Comfortable homes might encourage folks to reproduce and raise more nasty humans.

    Cave dwelling is so much more sustainable.

  42. indegar says:

    I have seen many studies like this that focus on the false dichotomy of clear-cuts versus un-touched wilderness, whereas neither approach maximizes carbon sequestration. As a forest land manager, I cultivate large, vigorous trees to optimize carbon, timber and biodiversity values simultaneously. This is achieved through repeated and timely thinning. We are harvesting all the time, right at the point a given stand starts to stagnate due to over-crowding, so the growth is phenomenal. From a carbon perspective, it doesn’t matter whether the cull trees are left standing dead, on the ground, or hauled away for lumber or biomass – they are all on an inevitable path to full CO2 emission. Might as well get some human value out of it before it gets recycled. What matters is that the remaining live trees have room to thrive, and are furiously sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, doubling in volume per acre every 20 years or so in our neck of the woods (Pacific NW).

    The pathetic state of our suppressed and retrogressing “no-touch” National Forests overwhelmingly repudiates this nonsense in the study:

    “In most cases, it would take more than 100 years for the amount of energy substituted to equal the amount of carbon storage achieved if we just let the forests grow and not harvest them at all,”

    Strategic harvesting is the KEY to optimum tree growth. Nature does the same culling process in her own sweet time. Properly manage a young forest for 100 years and it will steadily approach the maximum carrying capacity for its site – the volume equivalent of old-growth – and all the while you will be extracting valuable material. Leave the same second and third-growth forest alone for 100 years and you will see widespread overcrowding, disease & insect infestations, along with intense, soil-destroying wildfires that cause the carbon volume to gyrate wildly at low levels as the ecosystem attempts to re-establish its historical balance – all with no (or negative) economic benefit.

  43. Oregon State U seems a bellweather for strange climate-related studies. Where’s Kari when we need her? Leave the forests standing! No more harvesting! Let the understory grow unchecked, and create a humungous fire hazard! Then, when it burns, wring hands! Blame it on unmitigated climate change! Send unemployed loggers in for treatment! Blah!

  44. Kaboom says:

    Cut down trees, coat them in plastic, CO2 sequestered. Build large raft cities from those and let the greens swirl around in them at the Grand Garbage Pacific Patch.

  45. DirkH says:

    Poor sods in academia with a life that lacks purpose. Are there not enough quarries to put them to use? Have we run out of of chains and pick-axes?

  46. McComberBoy says:

    And somehow it is ‘green’ to use metal studs and concrete for building, but not green to use a renewable source like trees. But I think I’ve figured it out. The mine and quarry owners are replanting for iron and rock growth looking to a later harvest, but of course the forest owners aren’t. That must be it. The science is now settled. Just send more money.

  47. Ed Barbar says:

    I wonder if the same researchers were making an analysis of corn based ethanol as a good way to mitigate C02, whether they would come to the same conclusion. Somehow, I think not.

  48. LearDog says:

    Good grief. I submit LOTS of forests of Southern Pine are managed for carbon storage – with a sideline benefit called ‘lumber’. And they even renew the carbon sink by replanting!

    This is embarrassing. X-/

  49. Gunga Din says:

    Just think of all the money they could have saved if they’d just asked our resident member of the Union of Concerned Scientist.
    Kenji, what do you think?

  50. jorgekafkazar says:

    “The take-home message of our study is that…”

    …these people sing hosannas at the obvious and can’t see the significant: man-made global warming is a canard. Was Sam Walter Foss speaking of Florida? Because here are those men.

  51. polistra says:

    Greenies have quite seriously proposed cutting and burying, or cutting and entombing in plastic. Fortunately the money ran out before those fantastically wasteful ideas were implemented.

    I wonder if these researchers have ever noticed what actually happens to wood in rich countries? It isn’t burned. It becomes houses, which presumably “sequester” the CO2 for several decades. Only the leftover bits are chipped into burnable wood.

  52. ShrNfr says:

    Gosh, I would have thought that RJG would have funded this at the LSE via the Grantham Institute. He has been into timber for at least 15 years at GMO. Ah well, Lord Stern, you missed your chance to be a loon again. Just as well, the previous times were enough.

  53. Nick Stokes says:

    There is a counter argument, relevant to the longer term. Almost all the carbon reduced by photosynthesis is going to be oxidized again eventually, either by respiration (rotting, insects) or wildfire or, possibly, in a power station. So leaving the wood gives some temporary carbon storage, but eventually releases the energy of reduced carbon without benefit, and still ends up as CO2. Burning in a power station forgoes the storage, but means that some smaller amount of fossil fuel is not burnt to provide that electricity.

    I think the long-term arithmetic favors power stations. You can also get part of the storage benefit with delayed harvesting.

    It’s also true that whatever you do, you’ll end up with a maximum forest storage for the land and water available. Then you can’t add to the carbon store. But you can still burn the wood to displace fossil fuel use.

  54. ShrNfr says:

    @polistra Yes, sawdust/chips are used for pellet stoves pellets. But they are also combined with various plastics to make building material. With the lumber demand down of late, sawdust has been harder to come by. Nothing left but the squeal and all you know.

  55. Billy Liar says:

    dccowboy says:
    May 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Burning wood also produces dioxins but the greens don’t seem to count toxins from wood, only coal.

  56. wobble says:

    I’m quite sure that the conclusions reached by this study are counter-intuitive to most supporters of CAGW alarmism.

    Now, I’d like to see a similar study done on Wind and Solar energy. Given current efficiencies, I have a feeling that the results will be the same. Who thinks I’m wrong?

  57. Smokey says:

    Nick Stokes,

    You’re getting way ahead of yourself. First, you need to provide evidence that the increase in CO2 is causing global harm. If so, then we can worry about how to handle it.

    But so far there is no such evidence. None. You might just as well be worrying about a herd of unicorns.

    First, evidence. Then, response. You’re doing it wrong, discussing a response sans any evidence of global harm due to anthropogenic CO2. That’s not science, that is advocacy.

  58. wobble says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    May 31, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    There is a counter argument, relevant to the longer term. Almost all the carbon reduced by photosynthesis is going to be oxidized again eventually, either by respiration (rotting, insects) or wildfire or, possibly, in a power station. …I think the long-term arithmetic favors power stations.

    Nick, it seems as if this study would have do this exact arithmetic. Otherwise, I’m left wondering exactly what arithmetic they did. I’d be surprised if their arithmetic did not assume harvesting mature woods.

    However, if you’re implying that it’s better to burn fallen trees rather then allowing them to rot, then I would encourage you to calculate the energy required to selectively harvest only fallen trees. You might learn that less carbon is released via rotting than selective harvesting. Unless of course, you intend to harvest fallen trees using unicorn power.

  59. Merovign says:

    “Given False Premise, Dumb Idea Still Dumb. Solution? More Money And Power For Us.”

    You see, things like this are why the word “academic” carries the connotation of “pointless.”

  60. Merovign says:

    Smokey, *they* want to argue the “GW” part of the acronym, and will dodge the “C” part relentlessly, except when they control the forum and can assert without contradiction (closed fora).

    Because, as you say, the proof is illusory (or its new synonym, “extensively modeled”).

  61. Did the study give actual productivity numbers? They say that “Wood stores only about half the amount of carbon-created energy as an equivalent amount of fossil fuels.” That seems to say we need twice as many trees.

  62. Hoser says:

    Dave Worley says:
    May 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    Younger trees sequester more carbon than older trees.

    What gives you that idea? Consider the surface area of an older tree compared to a younger tree. How many younger trees do you need to equal one older tree? And what acreage would you need for each?

    However, your comment leads to an important point about forest management. A healthy forest will take up more CO2 than a sick forest. The Bambi syndrome makes people think people should stay out of the forest and let nature manage it. Too late for that.

    In US forests, tree density can be 10 times higher than in the historical condition. Read John Muir, and you’ll realize few places retain the “park like” quality he observed in the late 1800s. Forests have less biodiversity when they are crowded. They become an extreme fire hazard. Catastrophic fires did not occur in the past they way they do now. The reason is, fires were once more common, and any large stands of old trees with too high density would burn at some point. Also, crowded young trees would burn too. Open meadows were maintained; they are disappearing now. The forest-meadow interface has the greatest biodiversity.

    Burned trees only give off part of their sequestered CO2. As they decay, 2 or 3 times more CO2 than produced in the fire can be released before they are gone. Burning wood doesn’t sequester CO2, but building houses and furniture does. Our forest policy restricts cutting to a very small percentage of the wood mass produced each year. That policy is clearly unsustainable. To achieve stability, we need to cut an amount of trees equal to the amount that is produced each year.

    Forest restoration should be a policy goal. It’s good for the forest and the wildlife in it. Dense trees compete for water, and can die because they can’t get enough water to supply their leaves or needles. They can be weakened to the point they are prone to larval infestation, and can die that way. Wildlife can’t run from fire successfully. Most wildlife can’t survive in dark, crowded forests.

    Humans have managed forests for thousands of years. There is no reason we should stop now. We just need to implement the correct policies. Based on public information available in Sequoia National Park, at least the National Park Service does seem finally to understant, even if the USFS doesn’t.

  63. Pamela Gray says:

    Used to be that Cow College focused on how to grow trees for LUMBER. As in building things. Creating jobs. Caring for our forests so they are more PRODUCTIVE. Those two words, lumber and productive, can cause a watermelon to have a seizure!

  64. Geoff Sherrington says:

    The cost of creating large holes to fill with trees, plus transport, would be far greater than the gains. There is a high demand for landfill sites for other materials.
    It’s not only the carbon in trees that enters a cycle when you use them for fuel. They might be carbon- neutral by the definition of somebody, but they are not potassium-neutral, phorphorus-neutral, sulphur-neutral, magnesium-neutral, etc.
    You can’t keep harvesting trees and regrowing, without supplementing with fertilizer, which often comes from remote places with high transport and GHG emission costs. You have to factor in an investment cost, because to buy land, clear it, plant trees, thin them, fertilise them, takes up-front money that might not see a return for 15 years or more.
    Please consider that these comments have been known for decades and that if there was a positive return in the suggestions, they would be mainstream practice by now.

  65. George E. Smith; says:

    Well I wouldn’t say burning the wood is a great idea, but clear cutting the forests, and replanting (in blocks of course) is a good idea. Juvenile growing forests are a carbon sink; old growth forests are not; they are carbon neutral, so they don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance. Now old growth forests are good for other reasons, so I am not in favor of cutting them; but tree farms are far more efficient as carbon sinks; burning their product (wood) is not.

  66. Hoser says:

    indegar says:
    May 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Yes!!!!!!

    That said, why do we want to sequester carbon?

  67. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Wobble, Most tree plantations of hardwood and many of softwood are to provide building material from saw logs or chipboard. The management regime is often tailored to maximum return of yield, quality and low cost of saw logs. If this management is inconsistent with green desires to cycle CO2, then sorry, it’s no go. The world still awaits definitive, quantitative evidence of detriment from CO2 in the air, no matter how hard one wishes for it.

  68. Mac the Knife says:

    Ahem… dead wood (standing or fallen down) is preferred by folks who regularly cut firewood for their winter heat. Dead wood is partially to fully dry, reducing the drying time required before the fuel can be burned. Green wood from living trees is harder to harvest, heavier to haul, split, and stack, as well as taking substantially longer to dry.

    Additionally, harvesting the standing or down dead wood from the forests reduces the available fuel load and the potential for catastrophic forest fires. It’s really quite basic.

  69. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Juvenile growing forests are a carbon sink; old growth forests are not; they are carbon neutral, so they don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance.

    Old growth forests store carbon. If you lose the old growth forest, then you lose the storage. That most certainly affects the CO2 balance.

  70. wobble says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    If this management is inconsistent with green desires to cycle CO2, then sorry, it’s no go.

    I understand. However, I don’t think this study specifically addressed this issue. I think this study was specifically looking at two possible methods for reducing atmospheric CO2.

    1. Forest management tailored towards the production for woody mass energy as a replacement for fossil fuel; versus management.
    vs.
    2. Forest management tailored towards carbon storage within the woody mass.

    It seems as if they concluded that #1 is a failure – that it’s better to burn fossil fuels than to produce woody mass for energy. And it seems as if they concluded that #2 would successfully reduce atmospheric CO2.

    The world still awaits definitive, quantitative evidence of detriment from CO2 in the air

    Yes, I know. And until the evidence exists there’s no point in implementing #2.

    BUT the study suggests that there’s no point in implementing #1 even IF the evidence existed.

  71. Nick Stokes says:

    wobble says: May 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm
    “However, if you’re implying that it’s better to burn fallen trees rather then allowing them to rot, then I would encourage you to calculate the energy required to selectively harvest only fallen trees.”

    Wobble, I’ll defer there to
    indegar, who seems to know what he is talking about. The excess biomass is currently gathered. It will turn to CO2 in any case. It might as well be used.

  72. paul bradden says:

    Spanner in the works

    FOREST FIRE

  73. Dave Worley says:

    “Hoser says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Dave Worley says:
    May 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    Younger trees sequester more carbon than older trees.

    What gives you that idea? Consider the surface area of an older tree compared to a younger tree. How many younger trees do you need to equal one older tree? And what acreage would you need for each?”

    They grow more slowly when they are mature, Young trees grow rapidly and stash away carbon rapidly. Once they mature, less carbon is being stashed away per acre per year. That’s when its time to harvest and store the carbon in a building. Otherwise the wood ends up on the forest floor, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

    Not that I am bothered by co2 in the atmosphere, just responding to the idiotic premise.

    Not that I am against old growth in the national parks either. Some natural forests should be retained for posterity and scenic beauty.

  74. jknapp says:

    Did they include the expected forest fires? Are they expecting the forests to grow and crowd out everything else in there possible growing regions? You know like crops, cities, etc…

    Burning biomass is just an inefficient method of collecting and distributing solar energy. And equally clearly if you cut and burn some of it then the amount sequestered will on average be a bit less than if you don’t cut it. So I guess what they are saying is that the amount less sequestered is greater than the bit less of fossil fuels that they would need to burn without the biomass. In the short term this may be true, but overall if you are using solar energy in place of fossil fuels you must have less carbon in the atmosphere/ocean/biome than otherwise. Once the forests have reached there maximum extent the carbon will just be cycling between atmosphere, oceans, and biome. and the carbon from fossil fuels will be an additional amount. It is only in the realitively short time when the forests are increasing or that a difference will be made

    A silly study. Obvious and trivial.

  75. William McClenney says:

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tonto, cleverly disguised as a forest not allowed to burn naturally/periodically, is losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. Below the old-growth canopy, not a heck of a lot is, you know, alive. Take THAT you evil, twisted, forest you!

  76. markx says:

    Don’t crow too loudly, good people. Twenty years in Asia has taught me that when someone of influence or authority starts spouting an inane concept, you are about to get your pocket picked or your freedoms curtailed. I’m now old enough to realize that rule has always applied in the rest of the world, too.

    Forests in Australia which have been harvested for hundreds of years and have received international awards for the quality of their management are now being locked up by ‘mindless green doctrine’. These are gradually becoming locked up areas where no-one can go. This is happening all over the world.

    The above mentioned publication is simply another small part of that campaign.

    This timber which would have been sequestered in buildings and other structures will now be left to stand, until, inevitably, it WILL burn.

    Indegar says it all in this comment:

    indegar: May 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I have seen many studies like this that focus on the false dichotomy of clear-cuts versus un-touched wilderness, whereas neither approach maximizes carbon sequestration.
    Properly manage a young forest for 100 years and it will steadily approach the maximum carrying capacity for its site – the volume equivalent of old-growth – and all the while you will be extracting valuable material.

  77. markx says:

    I also theorize a major motivation for manufacturing and resource producing countries to encourage ‘green doctrine’ in emerging economies is as a form of economic hegemony. They really don’t want the competition.

    Locking up land as ‘national forests/parks’ locks up forestry products, but also locks up good farming country, mineral wealth, potential water catchment schemes, etc.

    Witness Brazil ignoring the pressure and now being one of the world’s greatest exporters of corn, soyabean, and beef.

    I think we may need the food more than we need the forests, and there is great potential for the greening of cities and semi rural areas.

  78. George E. Smith; says:

    “””””……wobble says:

    May 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Juvenile growing forests are a carbon sink; old growth forests are not; they are carbon neutral, so they don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance.

    Old growth forests store carbon. If you lose the old growth forest, then you lose the storage. That most certainly affects the CO2 balance…….”””””

    I started to write a response to this post. Then I decided it simply wasn’t worth wasting my time on.

    OLD GROWTH FORESTS ARE CARBON NEUTRAL. They die and rot, and return to carboniferous gases, as fast as they convert CO2 into new wood. They are in a state of dynamic Equilibrium. Well they are until a forest fire returns much of the carbon back into atmospheric CO2.

    I’m not against preserving old growth forests; but they DO NOT sequester carbon; only actively growing young farmed forests do that.

  79. Chuck Nolan says:

    Rob L says:
    May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    If CAGW were a real problem then one of the easiest solutions would be to bulldoze and bury large tracks of forests. Quick, effective, but anaethema to the green movement.
    —————————
    Too much added pollution from a bulldozer. Unless you use an electric powered bulldozer. That should be ok.

  80. JinOH says:

    Well, yeah – but burning wood keeps me warm in the winter. I have tons of standing trees – and harvest them as I need them – while replacing them at the same time. Mother nature is wonderful.

  81. Hoser says:

    Dave Worley says:
    May 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    That’s a myth.
    Consider the volume of wood created in an old tree versus a young tree, each year, i.e. a tree ring. In an old tree, the new wood is at a much bigger diameter than the young tree. Now integrate the whole surface. Really, this isn’t hard, is it?

    Where we would agree is an old SICK tree doesn’t sequester much carbon.

  82. pat says:

    markx says:
    May 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm
    Yes. i Believe that is the actual intent of this. Oregon has a mixed population, but like many areas in America, the urban population drives the votes. While the rural populations are mixed politically, the university towns and capital cities are often overwhelmingly liberal, to the point that science is a political beast. These cities simply outvote normalcy in favor of bizarre political theory because of the monolithic nature of the voting populace. Studies such as this are publicity pieces to ensnare bureaucrats and politicians into forcing the will of these nut cases on the world.

  83. Al says:

    This actually leads to the unexpected position that we should clearcut absolutely everywhere to allow the vastly more effective carbon scrubbing of young trees. While simultaneously turning all of the trees we just cut into something more permanent stored far away from the termites that naturally and organically release the carbon dioxide otherwise.

    That is: You can do substantial carbon sequestration by turning the trees into houses.

  84. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    OLD GROWTH FORESTS ARE CARBON NEUTRAL. They die and rot, and return to carboniferous gases, as fast as they convert CO2 into new wood. They are in a state of dynamic Equilibrium.

    That’s great. You’re claiming that they are in Equilibrium. This means that they are continuing to store carbon.

    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    they don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance.

    They don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance as long as they’re NOT harvested and burned. Because, if they are harvested and burned, then they most certainly do something for the CO2 balance. Even if they are harvested and left to rot, then they most certainly do something for the CO2 balance.

  85. markx says:

    wobble: May 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    Said: “That’s great. You’re claiming that they are in Equilibrium. This means that they are continuing to store carbon.”

    It seems to me a straightforward enough concept.

    If old forests are left untouched, there you have a finite amount of carbon sequestered. (Give or take the odd spike of forest fires). Seems a little pointless, except to sandal wearing hippies who presumably ‘feel good about it’ knowing it’s there, even though they may not be allowed to visit.

    Manage and harvest forests, lock up that carbon in construction, plant young forests or let harvested ones regenerate, and you can, through skilled management, continue increase the amount of sequestered carbon.

    You can argue it will eventually find its way back into ‘the system’, and that is true in all cases, it just depends on the timescale you prefer to discuss.

  86. tokyoboy says:

    Title correction:
    “Who would have thunk it? Standing trees better than burning ones” should read:
    “Who would NOT have thunk it? Standing trees better than burning ones”

    Is my English OK?

  87. Markx says “it just depends on the timescale you prefer to discuss”.

    Correct. From the vast forested areas all over the globe when human population was tiny, how many man-made wood structures remain? It’s so small a % that it’s not even worth calculation. So it’s not helpful to promote schemes that tie up CO2 ‘for the moment’ because in the long run, the wood essentially decays back to GHG. I can find no evidence that the carbon content of the global soil is increasing, so soil is not a sink either.

    People should be objecting to green get rich schemes that allow carbon credits for biomass accumulation of C. It will all revert to GHG one day (unless it forms coal or the like). It’s just a way to take tax $ from your pocket and give them to people with con-man dreams deviod of scientific merit. If you get paid to increase the carbon content above a certain area of land by any biomass method, you should pledge to return the money if and when the stored carbon falls. Also, it usually will fall unless you actively spend $ to manage the increase.

    Relatedly, there is a current misconception in Australia today that GHG reduction will be achieved by dehydration of abundant brown coal before large scale combustion in conventional fossil fuel electricity stations. Sorry, the equation does not work like that. Each atom of carbon has the ability (when combined into compounds, or as high carbon coal) to produce a certain amount of heat before grabbing a couple of oxygen atoms to make CO2. It does not matter if the coal is wet or dry, except that it costs more money to dry and less money to transport. Sometimes the $ cost balance is positive, sometimes negative, depends on the case. But don’t kid youself that you have produced a better, ‘kinder’ product than natural high carbon black coal.

  88. Julian Braggins says:

    For biomass to burn it is hard to beat the eucalyptus, for tonnage per hectare see
    http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0717-forest_carbon.html
    plus the advantage that they regenerate when cut, from the stump or when one or more of multi-stem tree trunks are cut, so the living root systems ensure quick regrowth.

    I have gathered ~8 tons a year from 1 hectare for thirty years mostly dead wind blown or drought stricken trunks and have far more tonnage on the property than when I came here and not a tree destroyed. 110 years ago there were only tree stumps visible for miles as steam powered mining took all available timber according to an old resident in the 70′s, now these stumps are trees up to 3′ diameter, most multiple trunks from around waist height up.
    Of course CO2 sequestering is a futile exercise, but I do like to be self sufficient and still see an increase in a natural resource.

  89. markx says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    “From the vast forested areas all over the globe when human population was tiny, how many man-made wood structures remain?”

    I’m not sure how accurate this is, or the timescale references: • http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm

    The Disappearing Rainforests loss world percent

    • We are losing Earth’s greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%.

    (me: we have only lost 57%? I’d have thought far more!)

  90. markx says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    “From the vast forested areas all over the globe when human population was tiny, how many man-made wood structures remain?”

    I’m not sure how accurate this is, or the timescale references: • http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm

    The Disappearing Rainforests loss world percent

    • We are losing Earth’s greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%.

    We have only lost 57%? I’d have thought far more!

  91. markx says:

    Geoff Sherrington says: June 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    “….it’s not helpful to promote schemes that tie up CO2 ‘for the moment’ because in the long run, the wood essentially decays back to GHG….”

    I’d like to emphasize the point this applies equally to standing forests AND to manmade structures,

    I am strongly of the opinion forests should be managed and utilized, and believe that can be done without detrimental effects to the environment, and that most likely it will have beneficial effects.

  92. Donald W. Macdonald says:

    If locking up carbon counts for anything – and that’s a debatable point – then it’s surely much better to covert it into building material etc. where it can remain ‘asleep’ for centuries than to set fire to it within months. That way the forest remains vigorous and thus soaks up more atmospheric CO2 ; a moribund woodland stand is of little value.

  93. John says:

    Can I get a grant to study the obvious?

  94. Terry says:

    To Duke: Are you smarter than a fifth grader.

    Nope.

  95. Latitude says:

    basically…..who cares

    We’re talking about 150 parts per MILLION….and almost all of that we had nothing to do with

  96. Pull My Finger says:

    Hey, I just invented this thing called the wheel, I bet if we use to roll stuff on it will save energy. I also just invented the ax which we can use to cut down trees to make wheels.

  97. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    If you ever were really going to use trees for carbon sequestering, a potentially economically viable method worth trying regardless is using them to make Biochar. The wood is subjected to pyrolysis, heating in a low/no oxygen environment, in modern industrial plants by varying the temperatures they can get varying yields of bio-oil, char, and burnable syngas, and produce 3-9 times the energy consumed, which can be financially beneficial.

    Then instead of burning the biochar (aka charcoal), use it traditionally, break it up into small pieces and incorporate it into farmland. which will become a rich terra preta soil. It increases the fertility of the soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, retains water reducing irrigation demands, etc. Depending on how much is used and how deeply it’s mixed into the soil, it might just be a one-time application. If it’s shown to work with modern farming techniques and can be mixed in easily (perhaps merely spreading while tilling) then it becomes an investment for farmers that’ll save money later, worth paying for.

    Without government mandates and money, you can conceivably have economically sustainable carbon sequestration, although that aspect doesn’t need mentioning, that reduces the need of fossil fuels to run irrigation pumps, farm equipment for fertilizer dispensing, as feedstocks for fertilizer production, etc. There are very good reasons to try this, without ever resorting to “global warming mitigation” as one of them.

  98. Billy Liar says:

    William McClenney says:
    May 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tonto, cleverly disguised as a forest …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonto_National_Forest

  99. GregM says:

    How is it that some believe that conifer forests will actively grow forever? Even trees get old, they get weak, and they often succomb to disease and destructive insects. That is if they don’t burn before they reach the end of their viability.

    Fire is part of the reproductive process of conifers. If we don’t harvest them, they will eventually burn. If the amount of fuel in the forest has been artificially kept high through anthropogenic fire suppression, you’ll likely end up with something like a firestorm beyond our control at higher temperatures that have more negative long-term effects.

    You can either harvest the timber or let nature have its way, but you can’t expect an endless trend of “carbon sequestration”.

  100. Len Ornstein says:

    Mitchell’s take home message “is that managing forests for maximal carbon storage can yield appreciable, and highly predictable, carbon mitigation benefits within the coming century,” “Harvesting forests for bioenergy production would require such a long time scale to yield net benefits that it is unlikely to be an effective avenue for climate-change mitigation.”

    His message is basically WRONG for tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests.

    Proper management and harvest of such forests can completely reverse the last century and a half accumulation of excess atmospheric CO2!

    See:

    “Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming”

    http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9626-y

    “Replacing coal with wood: sustainable, eco-neutral, conservation harvest of natural tree-fall in old-growth forests”

    http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9625-z

    and

    “Irrigated Afforestation of Deserts to Thermostat the Earth, End Global Warming
    and Provide Enormous Sustainable Sources of Wood to Replace Non-renewable
    Fossil Fuels”

    http://www.pipeline.com/~lenornst/ThermostatingTheEarth.pdf

  101. David A. Evans says:

    I put all this down to excessive education, ie educating people beyond their capability to understand.

    Here in the UK, there is an aim to have 50% of the populace university educated. We had someone, (I think it was Ed Balls when education minister/secretary), saying “I want over 50% of children to be above average!”

  102. Alex the skeptic says:

    Me thinks that all warmist theories have now been debunked. So can we now go back to the civilised world of the most affordable and safe energy as provided by mother earth itself, aka hydrocarbon fuels? It could be that we might be just in time to save the human world from Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Finacial Collapse.

  103. bj says:

    Watts started this by his so complete misinterpretation (deliberate?) or misunderstanding (natural) of what was being said. Fortunately he provided sufficient quotations to allow us to do better. I presume the link is behind a paywall? Usually it is polite when doing this sort of post, to allow your readers access to the original material. Of course, they might not draw the desired conclusions…

    ============================
    The question Duke was answering was whether the emissions from energy from fossil fuels displaced by substituting wood as a fuel source were outweighed by the retention of the original growing trees as an efficient carbon sink. So the question relates to the energy provided as well as the carbon cost.

    This is complicated by the fact that trees are more efficient at capturing carbon at some stages of growth than at others… and that CO2 sequestered in the tree is released when it dies.

    So the study was about something NOT obvious… but that’s not as much fun as making up strawmen and using them as a basis for ridiculing science.

  104. Gail Combs says:

    ShrNfr says:
    May 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    @polistra Yes, sawdust/chips are used for pellet stoves pellets. But they are also combined with various plastics to make building material. With the lumber demand down of late, sawdust has been harder to come by. Nothing left but the squeal and all you know.
    ________________________
    That is for sure. The price of sawdust for animal bedding has more than doubled.

  105. George E. Smith; says:

    “””””…..wobble says:

    May 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    OLD GROWTH FORESTS ARE CARBON NEUTRAL. They die and rot, and return to carboniferous gases, as fast as they convert CO2 into new wood. They are in a state of dynamic Equilibrium.

    That’s great. You’re claiming that they are in Equilibrium. This means that they are continuing to store carbon.

    George E. Smith; says:
    May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    they don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance.

    They don’t do a thing for the CO2 balance as long as they’re NOT harvested and burned. Because, if they are harvested and burned, then they most certainly do something for the CO2 balance. Even if they are harvested and left to rot, then they most certainly do something for the CO2 balance…….”””””

    Well it is apparent that not nearly enough lumber is turned into 2 x 4 s for teaching implements.

    A system that is in equilibrium DOES NOT CHANGE.

    A system that is in DYNAMIC equilibrium changes continually, but has NO NET CHANGE IN ITS state.
    That means a CO2 processing sytem in dynamic equilibrium has no net change of CO2 input and CO2 output; they exactly balance.

    Old growth forests grow slowly, and they die and return CO2 to the atmosphere at the exact same rate that they take up CO2 and convert it to new wood. Farmed forests do a lot of CO2 conversion to wood, and virtually no dying and rotting, and CO2 release, so they are carbon sinks. And their harvested products keep the CO2 sequestered for longer than it sits and rots in old growth forests.

    The World’s largest man made forests are in New Zealand. They are just about the only forests harvested there. Well except for their really old no-growth Kauri forests. Old no growth Kauri forests are between 2,000, and 55,000 years old. The oldest lumber I have bought from these Kauri forests, is 45,000 years old, so no-growth forests can sequester carbon much longer than old growth forests.

    Their farmed forests of Oregon Pine (aka Douglas Fir) are planted in such a way, that in 35 years, they grow into a forest of small fir Christmas trees growing on top of branch free telephone poles, ready for harvest. Underbrush can’t grow in the light free zone under the Christmas trees, so the fire hazard is greatly reduced.

    The trouble with you trolls, is that you don’t understand enough to even make good arguments.

    Forest farming is GOOD for the environment, as well as for the economy.

    By the way, both the USA and New Zealand, are net carbon sinks, as a result of their forest farming. The USA is the ONLY very large net carbon sink (on land) on earth. All the other land masses are carbon sources, or carbon neutral. The USA farming takes up ALL of our car exhausts, and then some so we sink, a lot of the carbon from the rest of the world.

  106. Dave Worley says:

    Hoser says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I’m thinking per acre, not per tree.

  107. eyesonu says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    June 1, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Hey, I just invented this thing called the wheel, I bet if we use to roll stuff on it will save energy. I also just invented the ax which we can use to cut down trees to make wheels.

    ===================

    That led to another idea. A tax, it will take the wheels off anything you put them on. It’s car-ban neutral. It’s very popular in California now.

  108. Samurai says:

    Forget wind and solar as future energy sources. The way our insane governments around the world are destroying the world economy through: overspending, overtaxing, overregulating and over printing currency, once the global financial and monetary collapse occurs, I think the next major fuel source could very well be furniture…..

  109. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    George,

    Why do you keep pretending to be correcting me? My statements are 100% true.

    Old growth forests store carbon. This is a fact.

    Just because they aren’t continuing to store more and more carbon doesn’t make my statement any less true.

    A system that is in DYNAMIC equilibrium changes continually, but has NO NET CHANGE IN ITS state.

    NO NET CHANGE IN ITS state means that it’s CONTINUING TO STORE CARBON.

    You’re only embarrassing yourself by pretending that I don’t understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium.

    So, we’ve established that old growth forests store carbon. Now, certainly you must admit that if an old growth forest is burned it will be a net contributor to atmospheric CO2 (and according to this Duke study this is true EVEN IF SUCH BURNING REDUCES FOSSIL FUEL USAGE – probably on a btu basis).

    Go ahead and admit it.

    Now, you’re more than welcome to argue in favor of certain types of forest management. Nobody is stopping you, and I’m certainly not trolling about this issue.

    Btw, harvesting forests for lumber seems to be outside the scope of this study. This study seemed to look at using forests for burning.

  110. wobble says:

    <bj says:
    June 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    So the study was about something NOT obvious… but that’s not as much fun as making up strawmen and using them as a basis for ridiculing science.

    How on earth can you claim that Anthony was ridiculing science? The opposite seems to be true here. Anthony seemed to be using science to ridicule those that want to make decisions based on feelings and intuition.

  111. Dave Worley says:

    Wobble:
    “Btw, harvesting forests for lumber seems to be outside the scope of this study.”

    Why on earth do we need to study burning wood? We have much cleaner and more efficient energy sources. We also have much more efficient uses for wood. Only the “sustainability” crowd might be interested in this study. The rest of us would prefer not to be funding 19th century energy science.

    I expect that is why most of the posts (mine included) don’t actually discuss the scope of the study, it’s just too ludicrous.

  112. George E. Smith; says:

    “””””…..wobble says:

    June 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    George,

    Why do you keep pretending to be correcting me? My statements are 100% true.

    Old growth forests store carbon. This is a fact. “””””

    All plant materials store carbon; diamonds store carbon, coal stores carbon, organic foods store carbon (which is poisonous according to the epa and scotus) gee I guess people store carbon too, so what the earth needs is more people to store more carbon; even petroleum stores carbon.

    The point is that replacing a steady state old growth forest with an active growing tree farm will actually store even more carbon. No I didn’t burn ANY of the old growth forest material; I stacked it in a big warehouse, also made of carbon storing wood, just in case anybody has a use for any of that material.

    Wobble, there are plenty of very good reasons for preserving old growth forests which I fully endorse and support. Carbon storage which as you point out is a fact (trees being carbon after all) is NOT one of them.

  113. George E. Smith; says:

    “””””…..wobble says:

    June 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    George,

    Why do you keep pretending to be correcting me? My statements are 100% true.

    Old growth forests store carbon. This is a fact.

    Just because they aren’t continuing to store more and more carbon doesn’t make my statement any less true.

    A system that is in DYNAMIC equilibrium changes continually, but has NO NET CHANGE IN ITS state.

    NO NET CHANGE IN ITS state means that it’s CONTINUING TO STORE CARBON.

    You’re only embarrassing yourself by pretending that I don’t understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium……”””””

    Getting a little wobbly there aren’t we !

    Some observations: “””””…..Why do you keep pretending to be correcting me?…..”””””
    Just where have I pretended to correct you; NOWHERE have I challenged YOUR statement that old growth forests store carbon. Don’t flatter yourself; I wouldn’t waste my time “correcting” your statement of the obvious; carbon stores carbon !
    Now YOU didn’t bother to add, that “simple concept of dynamic equilibrium” which you understand so well.
    I added that for the benefit of others who might not understand that; since YOU left it out.

    What I stated, and which you apparently chose to ignore, was that old growth forests are carbon neutral; I never said they don’t store carbon.

    Item #2 “””””…..You’re only embarrassing yourself by pretending that I don’t understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium…..”””””

    Now there’s an absurd statement; wobble; there’s no possible way, that you could know whether or not I might be embarrassed about something; anything, particularly assuming something, that, a) I never assumed, and b), you could not possibly know I had assumed, since nowhere did I state or imply, that you did not understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium. And for the record; I’m not the least embarrassed, about what you do or do not understand.
    My comments were for whatever benefit, anyone might get from them; if anything; not to start an inane argument as to whether carbon stores carbon.

    .

  114. Ben says:

    We already learned that clear-cutting the Northern Forests was a good thing for “global warming,” via research published in Global Change Biology. It was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Sunlight on dark trees creates local warming. Sunlight reflects off of a snowy ground without trees. Per their study, if you lose Northern Forest Trees and the sun reflects off of the snowy ground, it provides a cooling effect.

    “In cold regions where forest recovery is slower, albedo increases can persist for 100 years.”

    So, Saw Baby Saw… those Northern Forests, to save the planet, per the Dept of Energy study. :-)

    —————————

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Albedo_effect_in_forests_can_cause_added_warming_bonus_cooling_999.html

    From the linked article about the study:

    “Albedo effect” in forests can cause added warming, bonus cooling
    by Staff Writers
    Corvallis OR (SPX) Oct 21, 2011

    Researchers conclude in a new study that the albedo effect, which controls the amount of energy reflected back into space, is important in the climatic significance of several types of major forest disturbances.

    In some cases – mostly in boreal forests with significant snow cover – increases in reflectivity can provide cooling. If the area disturbed by fire or insects is large, this cooling can substantially offset the increase in global warming that would otherwise be caused by these forest disturbances and the release of greenhouse gases.

    “On a smaller or local scale, however, changes in albedo can be fairly important, especially in areas with significant amounts of snow, such as high latitudes or higher elevations.”

    Albedo is a measure of radiation reflected by a surface, in this case the surface of the planet. Lighter colors such as snow reflect more light and heat back into space than the dark colors of a full forest and tree canopy.

    “This decreased absorption of heat by the land surface is a local atmospheric cooling effect,” said Tom O’Halloran, a recent postdoctoral research at OSU who is now with the Department of Environmental Studies at Sweet Briar College. “This was clear in one case we studied of trees killed by mountain pine beetles in British Columbia.

    “In areas with substantial snow cover, we found that canopy removal due to either fire or insect attack increased reflected radiation and approximately offset the warming that would be caused by increased release of carbon dioxide,” O’Halloran said.

    This complex phenomenon would be much less in lower latitudes or areas without snow for much of the year, the researchers said. It relates primarily to boreal or colder mid-latitude forests, such as the Canadian insect outbreak over 374,000 square kilometers of forest.

    In cold regions where forest recovery is slower, albedo increases can persist for 100 years.

  115. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    The point is that replacing a steady state old growth forest with an active growing tree farm will actually store even more carbon.

    OK, great, but that has nothing to do with the question of replacing fossil fuels with wood as a source of energy in order to reduce atmospheric CO2 – which was the primary point of this study.

    Additionally, it seems as if this study reaches the same conclusion as you – that forests can be managed in order to maximize carbon storage (which is separate from the question of burning them).

    there are plenty of very good reasons for preserving old growth forests

    I don’t care about preserving old growth forests, nor do I care about the reasons for preserving them.

    Carbon storage which as you point out is a fact (trees being carbon after all) is NOT one of them.

    Reread all of my comments. I never claimed that carbon storage was a reason to preserve old growth forests. I only ever claimed that old growth forests store carbon.

    Frankly, I’m left wondering if you even thoroughly read this post because you seemed to have missed the point entire but decided to jump on a soap box and start arguing a different issue entirely.

  116. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 3, 2012 at 1:16 am

    you could not possibly know I had assumed, since nowhere did I state or imply, that you did not understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium.

    You kept defining dynamic equilibrium as if it was germane to anything that I had written.

  117. wobble says:

    Dave Worley says:
    June 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Why on earth do we need to study burning wood?

    In order to dismiss the notion that it’s a good way to reduce atmospheric CO2.

    Only the “sustainability” crowd might be interested in this study.

    Exactly, the sustainability crowd needs to know that widespread replacement of fossil fuels with wood will actually contribute to more atmospheric CO2 – which might be the only metric that they care about.

  118. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” wobble says:

    June 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

    George E. Smith; says:
    June 3, 2012 at 1:16 am

    you could not possibly know I had assumed, since nowhere did I state or imply, that you did not understand what is meant by a concept as simple as dynamic equilibrium.

    You kept defining dynamic equilibrium as if it was germane to anything that I had written…..”””””

    Well that’s an absurd observation.

    First off, I never questioned ANYTHING you wrote; or understood.
    I did ADD, (entirely for the benefit of others who may not know or understand) that old growth forests are carbon neutral; meaning they are not continuing to take up carbon in excess of that they are currently storing; and are in fact in dynamic equilibrium.

    I defined dynamic equilibrium for those other folks; precisely once.
    I did not, as you falsely claim;….””””” kept defining dynamic equilibrium as if it was germane to anything that I had written…..”””””

    If you have a fundamental objection to my adding anything to something you have posted; take up your objection with Anthony; and he has my open ended permission to delete ANY and ALL comments, I may make in the future to ANYTHING you choose to inform us about; and that includes this comment as well.

  119. wobble says:

    George E. Smith; says:

    OK, George. We seemed to have become slightly cross threaded. We’ve both made our points well known, and we probably agree on the big picture.

Comments are closed.