The Coming Global Forest Regrowth

Guest essay by Steve Goreham

Last month, Pope Francis visited Peru and spoke about preserving the biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest. For decades, environmental groups have lamented the shrinking of world forests. But trends now point to a coming regrowth of global forests.

Deforestation has long been an important environmental issue. President Theodore Roosevelt voiced concern in 1907: “We are consuming our forests three times faster than they are being reproduced. Some of the richest timber lands of this continent have already been destroyed, and not replaced, and other vast areas are on the verge of destruction.”

The felling of forests is blamed for habitat destruction, species extinction, and greenhouse gas emissions that reportedly cause dangerous global warming. Deforestation is labeled a crisis in Southeast Asia by the Rainforest Alliance, in Queensland, Australia by the World Wildlife Fund, and in Sudan by the United Nations, a few of many such characterizations.

Throughout history, people felled forests to clear land for farms and to gather wood for fuel. An estimated 60 percent of Europe’s forests were cut down during the last 2,000 years. About 30 percent of US forests disappeared, with most vanishing during the 1800s. Earth has lost an estimated 30 percent of original forests since agriculture began.

Today, world forested areas are still shrinking, but at a decreasing rate. The UN reports that from 1990 to 2015, global forested area declined by about three percent, but that the net rate of forest loss decreased by about 50 percent from previous decades. Developing nations in Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia continue to lose forests, but forests are stable or growing in North America, Europe, and most of Asia.

Today, forested area is declining in about one-third of the world’s countries, stable in one-third, and growing in one third. Forests are stable or growing in more than 100 nations, including Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the US, and in most of Europe.

Forests in the United States have been growing for about 50 years. Today, more than 90 percent of US paper comes from high-yield forests planted specifically to be harvested. Company promotional campaigns to “go electronic and save a tree” have little factual basis, at least in the US.

As the income of nations rises, deforestation changes to forest regrowth. Modern high-yield agriculture techniques reduce the need for additional farmland. Modern fuels, such as propane and natural gas replace wood for heating and cooking. The great promise of forest regrowth can be achieved by boosting the income of nations and the adoption of high-yield farming techniques, not by coercive sustainable policies to restrict forestry or agriculture.

Paradoxically, policies to “fight climate change” are causing deforestation. Biofuel programs pursued by Europe and the United States during the last two decades caused an additional 41 million hectares of land to be used for ethanol and biodiesel production, an area the size of Germany. Rain forests in Indonesia have been cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations, so that feedstock for biodiesel can be shipped 10,000 miles to Germany to meet biofuel targets.

At the same time, evidence shows that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, partly driven by industrial emissions, is boosting forest growth. Satellite data shows an eleven percent growth in global leaf area from 1982 to 2010. Scientists attribute most of this growth to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Despite all the concern about deforestation, the great news is that world forests will be growing on net within the next few decades.

Originally published in The Daily Caller.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.


94 thoughts on “The Coming Global Forest Regrowth

  1. ” Rain forests in Indonesia have been cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations”…

    …tell them a republican did it…they will stop it tomorrow

  2. From the map you might notice that forests are declining in under-developed or developing countries, and they are stable or growing in developed countries. What many people do not realize is that pushing people back to the stone age is the antithesis of sustainable living. Technology makes us more efficient in agriculture, in heating homes, in transportation, and so on and so on, (doesn’t seem to help with bitcoin mining). Economic development, technological development, and sustainability often go hand in hand.

    • Made even worse by forcing economically underdeveloped countries to abandon low cost electricity and leaving only wood burning for energy.
      If you want to look at deforestation caused in this manner, merely look at an aerial map of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Rep.). The border is obvious.

      • Sorry, that is an urban(?) legend. The difference is between steep hills and lower ground, accessible -or not- areas. The border has nothing to do with it.

      • Go to google earth and look at the satellite views in the border region, François. Look for yourself.

  3. The hard-core greens desire for a simple life and opposition to modern farming technology is anything but “sustainable”. The places in the world not suffering deforestation are fairly modern, with pretty much only the third world having a problem.
    This is not the only time that the green blob advances some policy counterproductive to their stated goals. Their unstated goals, on the other hand. . . They might very well want societal collapse.

    • Tom

      My late father in law was a senior UN Forester from the 50’s to the 80’s. More than 30 years spent in bush, in places like West Africa, Peru, Cuba and Burma.

      He despised the greens and charities, preferring himself, to enable a region to ‘learn to fish’s rather than being given fish.

      His observations were that commercial loggers were professional wood farmers. They replenished their land knowing full well they could return in decades hence to harvest their bounty.

      He didn’t consider ‘illegal loggers’ illegal. They simply responded to the local demand for fuel from villages, towns and cities. The difference is, these loggers didn’t replant but left fertile land for farmers. But it only lasted for 3 years or so because the farmers couldn’t afford fertilisers that couldn’t be produced anyway because fossil fuel energy is so scarce.

      The solution is, of course, to build fossil fuel powered, power stations which would put the speculative loggers out of business and allow farmers to develop the land they have instead of constantly needing new pastures.

      A reasonably simple solution to a straightforward problem. Stymied by green zealotry.

      No wonder he despised them.

      • One of the reasons the soil wears out in such short order is that rain forest soil is relatively nutrient-deficient. The lushness of the rain forest is due the the high cycle rate of those nutrients.

      • Agreed, however technology unavailable to farmers could enrich the soil, assuming local logging was still required if fossil fuel energy were readily available.

      • The solution was nuclear not fossil fuels. The fossil fuelers are greater bashers of nuclear than the greens.

      • davidgmillsatty

        Not sure I understand your comment. However, in the 50’s to 80’s nuclear power in Africa was largely a pipe dream, the wealthy west was only just coming to terms with it.

        And like everything else, one must demonstrate the ability to walk before being encouraged to run: in other words, when an emerging nation can be trusted to run a simple fossil fuel powered grid, then perhaps they can trust themselves to operate nuclear facilities, with expert guidance, perhaps.

        And a step further, if abundant fossil fuel energy proved to resist the and reduce the persistent civil and cross border violence and wars, then perhaps progression to nuclear power might be considered.

      • @ HotScot Since 2011 or so, I have been posting about an entirely different form of nuclear power we could have had and invented and proved the concept at Oak Ridge National labs. It was so radically different than what we have today that it is doubtful a single reactor part would be interchangeable. And it would have enabled the first world to limit its need for and use of fossil fuels. Listen to the NASA engineer who became its chief proponent. Give it five minutes.

  4. Take a walk more than one mile away from the trailhead in any forest, you’ll quickly realize there is no shortage of forest.

    • Try that in Scotland and you’ll be knee deep in Heather. The preferred habitat of farmed grouse, raised to be shot by wealthy landowners who burn the heather every year to, supposedly, encourage regrowth. It also has the unfortunate side effect of cremating tree saplings.

      Scotland was once rich in forest, now laid barren.

  5. Oregon’s State Legislature, in it’s infinite wisdom, has proposed a $700,000,000/year ($21 billion total) ‘cap and trade’ program to reduce Oregon’s CO2 emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The proposal allows uncut forests left to grow to act as natural CO2 CCS sinks that count toward reducing emissions.

    Oregon has a very unique, viable solution available to it that no other state has in enough abundance to get the job done… douglas fir trees.

    Douglas fir are very good at sequestering carbon dioxide. Douglas firs remove 11,308.7 lbs of CO2 per acre per year from the atmosphere. Oregon needs to remove 31.84 mmtCO2/year to achieve their defined goal.

    6.2 million acres of new, undisturbed douglas fir forest can get the job done. Oregon has 24 million acres of harvestable forest with over 12 million are douglas fir. Under current Oregon forest management practices (2000-2015) only about 48% of forests harvested are replanted.

    Approximately half of western Oregon’s massive douglas fir forests are cut down right now.

    There is enough available acreage to replant and leave untouched 6.2 million acres of douglas fir forests and still support Oregon’s existing forest products industry at current usage levels.

    Not only that, but it’s the perfect natural solution. It’s an environmentalist’s dream come true!

    Will the State of Oregon then consider the cheapest, most natural solution that actually works, and is better for the environment than anything conceivable?


    Oregon’s government is looking for a new $700 million dollar per year revenue stream, not for a CO2 reduction solution. The revenue stream depends on failing to reduce CO2. The state makes no money if CO2 is actually reduced on schedule.

    • -Oregon law requires replanting harvested forest so it’s not only 48% of forest land gets replanted, it’s almost 100%. Exception to that is if privately owned land is being taken out of forest production for a different land use such as farming or residential. Now for a little more information, the lowest property tax rate a land owner can get is for forest land use. That means most people think long and hard prior to changing their land use designation. Higher taxes make our politicians drool so they like to approve new housing developments. Currently Oregonians live on ~4% of the land, rest of it is farm land, forest and grass land. It’s not as you’ve said above where we are wantonly cutting down our forest, leaving bare dirt to wash off into the ocean.

      -Federal and State own 50% of Oregon, timber harvests are down on that land due to environmentalist law suits. I’m assuming this is where you planned for the additional forest growth? Due to lack of cutting building fuel load and poor forest management a lot of that land burns every year. So you get your wish after it burns…Not sure if burning forest and regrowth is a net CO2 sink or emitter. Private lands run by companies like Weyerhauser to a much better job managing their land, their main problem is burning fed/state land that abuts their property.

      -Doug fir life cycle is ~150 years so that carbon isn’t going to stay sequestered before it is released back to the atmosphere. That of course is assuming it doesn’t burn first. I do seem to recall reading a paper that says young forest sequesters more CO2 than old growth forest. That being true, growing trees and turning them into lumber can sequester more carbon than a mature forest.

      -As I’ve already stated politicians drool at the possibility of more taxes to spend. Of course they want a carbon tax…You got that part right.

      • I thin you are wrong on this point “…Doug fir life cycle is ~150 years…”. I had property in the mid 1970s which had around 1 million bdf of second growth Douglas fir. The trees ranged in age from 70 to 100 years, and the diameters ranged from 18 inches to 32 inches. They were up to 110 feet in height. There was one old growth fir which I took down as it was developing signs of decay. A monster tree, it yielded 18,000 board foot. I estimated the rings to showing close to 400 years of age. The tree would have likely stood for another century on its own.

        I also worked in the woods as a choker setter back in the 1970s. I saw plenty of stumps which ranged 2 to 3+ centuries of age.

      • Goldminor, You are right and I’m wrong. That time frame came from a teacher 30+ years ago and I never questioned it. Quick Google says up to 700 years. I stand corrected.

    • If Oregon is really serious about CO2, they should cut down the forests, replant, and dump all that wood (weighed down to make it sink) offshore into the ocean, to make sure it’s sequestered. I’d add /sarc but not sure some there wouldn’t consider it.

      One advantage of eastern forests is that replanting isn’t necessary — most of the tree species (but not conifers) will resprout from the cut stumps.

      • In a coniferous forest, replanting is not necessary either unless you want to replant with something else or a particular genetic strain. It does get you about 15 years ahead of natural regeneration, but there are seeds in the soil that will grow without any replanting and are subject to natural selection as they do that.

      • Thanks, Lee. Even here in the US mid-Appalachians, they sometimes leave some conifer “seed trees” from the cut as most conifers will quickly reseed and their seedlings grow quickly. Further southeast of me in the Virginia piedmont, there are fairly extensive loblolly pine “farms” where they harvest & then replant for relatively quick turnovers.

  6. I find it astonishing how intelligent forests are. I mean, to grow up to and change exactly where the borders of countries are, wow! I might also have to spend a few bucks to travel to Algeria to see the growing forests there.

  7. The picture that accompanies this article shows the thin blue atmosphere.
    Just how thin?
    Well, NOAA/NASA define ToA as 100 km. More about that later.

    A meter is 3.28 feet. A kilometer is 3,280 feet. A mile is 5,280 feet. A km is 3,280/5,280=0.62 miles. 100 km is 62 miles.

    It’s 68 miles between Colorado Springs & Denver. I (and hordes of others) have driven that distance hundreds of times. From the fourth floor of the Stone & Webster engineering building in Centennial I could look south and clearly see Pikes Peak, 60 or so miles away.

    Pick a nearby example for yourself and consider just how small a 62 mile distance is.
    Think of looking up at passing jets with their vapor trails at 35,000 feet, 10.6 km. Or look down at all the pivot irrigation crop circles. Not really that far, is it.

    Powers got shot down while at 70,000 feet, 21 km.

    The more later part.

    However, 99% of the atmospheric mass/molecules are below 32 km, 19.8 miles.
    Below 32 km traditional heat transfer works, Q=UAdT.

    Above 32 km where there are no molecules, terms like hot, cold, heat, energy lose their meaning and radiation, i.e. S-B BB, runs the energy show.

  8. This will accelerate even more if the project trend of global population reduction really happens from the 2050s on.

  9. I’m sorry but that map is just plain stupid. That map projection which makes Russia and Canada (and Greenland) so big makes it useless as an indicator of area, not to mention the fact that it completely ignores where ‘forests’ actually grow.

    But happy to see that the forests of Iceland are growing! How many trees is that?

    For me the best point in this article is the reminder that the CAGW idiocy is now destroying lots of extremely valuable wildlife habitat in the SE US to make wood pellets, to ship to Europe. Total insanity.

    • EH ==> You protest too much — map projections? It is at least recognizable and we know which countries are which. Besides, Goreham didn’t make the map, UN FOA did.
      The POINT of Goreham’s piece is that national prosperity determines, in a general sense, environmental health in that nation. I have seen this in all my travels and in my 11 years of volunteer humanitarian work. Even when two countriews are both poor — the relatively better off has better environmental protections and success — witness the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

      • Kip – Yes, I got that point and understand it. Still think it is a stupid, or shall I say useless, map for more reasons than just the scale.

        So the ‘forests’ of Libya are ‘stable’ while those of Brazil are ‘declining.’ LOL.

        Oh well. As you say, it is from the UN so shouldn’t expect much.

    • “But happy to see that the forests of Iceland are growing! How many trees is that?”

      This may partly answer the question:

      Icelandic Forest Service:
      Forestry in a treeless land 2017

      “Among the first things that visitors to Iceland usually notice are that it is not as warm as where they came from and there is a lack of forests in the landscape. Logically, they connect these two facts and come to the conclusion that Iceland is too cold for forests. This impression is often reinforced when they see the “forests” of low-growing and crooked native birch. However, over a century of forestry has proven that this is not the case, that it is past land-use and not climate that explains the treeless landscape. In fact, forests grow as well in Iceland as they do in parts of the world where forestry is a major industry….” (More…)

      • The Vikings burnt wood for more than a millennium just to keep warm … it is only in relatively recent times that tree planting has been instigated.

    • The Mercator projection, where all meridians are vertical, does tend to make land masses at high latitudes (such as Russia, Greenland, and Canada) appear disproportionately large compared to low-latitude areas. But the colors on the map show that forests are stable (but not regrowing) in Russia and Canada, and Greenland doesn’t have many trees to begin with.

      What I found interesting is that the forests are growing in India and China, despite the huge human populations of both of these countries. Western China does have a lot of mountainous, undeveloped land with undisturbed forests, but with China’s rapid economic growth, they have been able to feed their people
      (most of whom live in the east near the Pacific) using less land. India probably has a much higher population density than China, but India’s economy has also grown rapidly over the past few decades, yet their forests are re-growing.

    • The Mercantor map was not representative of size (India is 1/3rd larger than Greenland) but it worked to keep ships from running into land which was the whole point of it. I agree it is a poor representation of actual landmass but it is something everyone is familiar with.

  10. Habitat destruction for agriculture is a huge problem. Which leads to the conclusion that anything to increases productivity should be encouraged. So yes to GMO and no to Organic.

    • Bogus propaganda for GMO plants. Try a web search of vertical farming. No pesticides or herbicides required but not considered organic (if that’s a big deal to you). One old semiconductor plant in Japan turns out 10,000 heads of lettuce A DAY, 365 days a year using 1/10th the water of outdoor farming. Now that is efficient.

      As we head into the upcoming cold decades (if the cyclical folks are correct and I think they are) we will need a whole lot more indoor vertical farms and a whole lot more cheap electrical energy.

      • Retired semiconductor fabs are not exactly ideal due to the amount of gases/chemicals that have saturated the structure. Without sealing every surface (expensive $$$$) you’ll be exposing people and plants to toxins. Intel looked into turning one of their retired fabs (when I worked there) into office space and changed their minds due to the high costs involved in making it a safe living space. Might make sense in land poor Japan but not likely in land rich countries.

        Indoor farming has benefits but I’m not sure it can compete with farm land due to costs in most areas. Buildings are not cheap to operate and maintain by a long shot which significantly raises overhead compared to land raised products. Heck, I looked into hydroponic raised grass for my horse and the break point (using the companies provided numbers) was comparable to $160/ton hay not including the daily labor involved. I can by grass hay for $120-$180 a ton depending on the type and seller.

  11. Steve Goreham ==> You have it absolutely right — poor nations are deforesting — for fuel and farmland. Wealthier nations have peaked in deforestation, and are regrowing forests — often through abandonment of marginal agricultural land, which is the case in my part of New York State — pastures and hay fields are left to regrow as transitional forests.
    In New York state, the state department of environmental protection has been forced to start cutting forests to provide more transitional forests — as there is no longer enough fire and clear-cutting to provide these habitats. See my earlier essay Update: About those claims of declining bird populations due to ‘climate change’.
    The solutions to so many world problems have the same solution: Help these nations and peoples achieve a higher standard of living — which starts with reliable and inexpensive access to electrical energy, cook gas, and knowledge.

  12. What has been cut down pales in comparison to what the last glaciation did. Not saying we should ignore deforestation but more CO2 in the atmosphere (thanks China (sincerely!)) is helping a lot.

    • Mother nature destroying nature. Ironic that humans seem to be the only ones who care about nature. Mother nature herself certainly doesn’t seem to give a shit what her actions cause. And yet she and “Gaia” are the “good and caring” ones and humans are the “evil and destructive ones”. But then again she and Gaia are just imaginary things invented by humans. If any aliens are watching, they must be amused.

  13. Wanna return to the natural state of things ?, just stop cutting the grass and trimming trees, She’ll handle the rest.
    Look at Chernobyl.

  14. I was amazed to find out, in comparing some old records to today’s, that the State of Texas has over twice as much forested acreage today as it had in the 1930’s. Currently at 60 million acres. In spite of the popular portrayal of Texas in westerns, there’s more forest here than in any other state except Alaska.

  15. “Old Growth” forests must be distinguished from regular regrowth forests for this discussion.

    A planted forest grown by Weyerhaeuser is one thing, but loss of the rare old growth forests and their unique habitats and animals is still a major problem — as can be clearly seen from the map where the red areas are mainly in classic old growth rainforest areas.

  16. Human caused deforestation has occurred since the mesolithic period in Europe as early humans transitioned from hunter gatherers or were displaced by advancing waves of early agriculturalists. The slash and burn techniques used since the mesolithic period deforested large tracts on all continents beginning in Europe thousands of years ago. The same process occurred in the western hemisphere but much later around 1000 CE.

  17. Great post!!! I’ve been beating this drum for many years. In the U.S. we have 57% more standing timber than we did in 1955, but with cessation of harvesting in the early 1980s many forested areas are stagnated resulting in insect and disease issues with then lead to a greater incidence of forest fire. We need to selectively harvest where needed and bring back our forest products industry, rather than importing over $14 billion in forest products to the detriment of U.S. workers.

    Keep up the great work.

    Thanks, Don Healy

  18. “Satellite data shows an eleven percent growth in global leaf area from 1982 to 2010. ”

    Steve Goreham, you are out of date. By 2017 the new forest cover is a lot more after 35 years (it was 14% in 2013 over 30 years – from NASA) . The actual ‘new green leaf coverage’ is twice US area (12% of earth’s land area) – but since 85% of the planet has vegetation cover and it’s equivalent to 32% leaf cover, then new plants (and bigger leaves?) are more than double, or 30% of plant cover – trees would be a smaller area than this but 18% new tree cover isn’t out of the ball park. The net growth is plus already.

  19. .
    Personally I don’t claim to know what route to development is best for each and every country out there. They all have different problems and resources. For many without FF resources or the infrastructure to use them (or on islands, in isolated communities, etc.) renewable energy may be the most economical and practical answer. There are alternative paths to development that don’t follow the Western paradigm of dependence on FF. Maybe other countries choose not to have to suck up to the Saudis or have their economies subject to fuel price fluctuations. And if every developing nation starts using FF at the per capita rate we do, competition for limited resources will drive prices up, making renewables comparatively economical. Maybe it’s better for nations to invest half in renewables rather than put it all into infrastructure that the MARKET could make redundant. No economy that is dependent on non-renewable resources is “sustainable.”

    For some, high-tech farming like ours is not the solution (currently, at least) for many reasons, such as energy, irrigation and chemical inputs, seed patents, property rights, social and political factors, high capital investment, ecological circumstances, etc. Whatever farming practices are adopted have to be tailored to the situation. Encouraging people into debt so they can buy machines, fuel, fertilizers, herbicides and new seed every year may not be appropriate. America has its own problems created by high-tech farming such as erosion and runoff, herbicide resistance, animal waste treatment (and methane production), aquifer depletion, corporate control of seed production, inhumane livestock production, and the loss of the small farmer.

    “Help these nations and peoples achieve a higher standard of living — which starts with reliable and inexpensive access to electrical energy, cook gas, and knowledge.” Higher standard of living starts with political stability, education, employment, health care, adequate nutrition. People can have FREE electricity without having a better standard of living.

    Who will help these nations? NGOs are OK, but there’s not enough to make a lot of difference. America these days only cares about America – we won’t even take responsibility for the damage we do to others.

    I find it very odd that anyone here claims to care about the world’s forests or peoples when environmental and human concerns related to FF burning are brushed aside as ridiculous alarmist ideology.

    It’s so easy to attack the greenies for anything and everything, regardless whether they really believe it. Yeah, right, greens want to keep poor countries in the stone age so they don’t use fossil fuels. Those greens are all alike, and all stupid, right?

    Isn’t it fun to share your hatred and prejudice with others, confirming how justified and righteous are your opinions?

    Isn’t it nice to be able to pretend to have the moral high ground while advocating for self-serving policies that ignore all present and future cost to others?

    I don’t identify with greenies and sometimes they irritate me. I just get sick of the endless attacks, the animosity, assumptions, generalizations…the hatred that is tearing America apart so that there can’t even be rational discussion. It’s tribalism, and it’s a growing problem. Just because others attack skeptics doesn’t mean its right to perpetuate the battle.

    • Ms Silber, you have accepted rather too much of the sales job on “renewables”. Given the intermittent nature of wind and solar, and the lack of practical utility level storage, they are technologies that are not yet practical. Try reading past discussions on renewables on this site, or try various Australian websites on going off the grid.

      • I’m perfectly aware of the problems with renewables, thank you, and what it means to go off the grid (reminds me of a good off-grid friend I had when I lived in Oz). I’m talking about specific cases, not generally – my whole intent is to stop the generalizations. (Reminds me – I should have specified that I don’t argue any nation should or would go completely without FF) Besides, technology is constantly changing, and by the time some of these countries really start developing we don’t know what will be available. Storage will change.

        I’m not arguing against FF. I’m arguing that it’s worth doing whatever is reasonable to lower our FF use and keep it from reaching our per capita emission rate in the developing world.

      • Kristi, your argument is identical to what every investment advisor says: “Don’t put all your eggs (FF) in one basket”


      • Rob – Yes, of course, diversification (last time I used that word here I was mocked!). I think it’s good practice for reasons beyond climate change. Can you imagine the market potential of breakthrough renewable technologies? The developing world is going to need energy. Installation expertise is in demand. A Spanish company is making big investments in renewables in the U.S. – shouldn’t that be our “territory”? I see a lot of economic potential. Jobs, too. People can complain about subsidies once they remove FF and biofuel subsidies (or billion-dollar subsidies for Boeing, Amazon, etc.)

      • ““Help these nations and peoples achieve a higher standard of living — which starts with reliable and inexpensive access to electrical energy, cook gas, and knowledge.” Higher standard of living starts with political stability, education, employment, health care, adequate nutrition. People can have FREE electricity without having a better standard of living.”

        I think you are underestimating the importance of energy. Also, some of the things you said like education, employment, health care, and adequate nutrition aren’t free. Nobody just “starts with them”. Higher standards of living starts with political stability, like you said, but also more importantly economic freedom. Access to cheap and reliable source of energy is also a great help. We should not underestimate the importance of it. Everything we do consumes energy. When people have economic freedom and access to cheap energy, they can start to better their lives, just like people in western countries and in various Asian countries did.

        Life 200 years ago before electricity was not easy. We take electricity for granted and never have learned to truly appreciate it. If it’s truly a good idea to shut down lights for an hour during the “Earth Day”, then surely it’s even better to shut them for a month, or year, or more? Also shut down all power generators, and cars, and even go to your local hospital and shut down the life support machines there.

        In Africa poor people use wood to cook. This of course causes deforestation and is a severe health risk because of the smoke. Access to cheap and reliable source of electricity would be a great help to them. Some African countries are rich in coal but can’t use them, because of that evil climate change. So rich westerners instead sent them solar panels, which of course only work when it’s sunny, while at the same time using fossil fuels at home. Kinda hypocritical, but it makes people feel better, which seems to be the most important thing today.

        In my opinion the best way to help poor nations is free trade and economic freedom. I think today we put too much trust on governments and NGO’s, and too few trust in free markets and ordinary people. Foreign aid to other countries has mostly just helped the dictators and encouraged the people to stay poor and dependent on aid. Good intentions are not enough. You also need good results. Too many people today think that top down micromanagement is the best way to help the poor. Maybe they should instead stay out of the way?

        And diversification is good. My problem is that it should not come at the expense of ordinary citizens. How much subsidies FF get anyway, compared to renewables? If renewables are so great they don’t need any subsidies, which I think are the sign of cronyism and corruption. Government forcefully taking your money and giving it someone else. Only people who benefit from this are the rich and powerful, at the expense of ordinary people. We have demonised fossil fuels while ignoring their benefits. At the same time renewables are praised but their negatives have been constantly downplayed. I feel like there never was any proper discussion on this.

        Another problem I have with this enviromentalist movement, or “religion” as some people would call it, is that it places the planet ahead of the people. I consider myself a humanist and in my opinion humans are more important than rocks or trees. Mother nature has no problem destroying this planet herself, as the history of Earth constantly shows us. Ironically my view would probably be much more “natural” because that is what animals do too. They prioritize their own well being over anything else. It’s also puzzling how people constantly complain that life is fragile and we are destroying it, while at the same time being amazed how resilient life is.

    • No economy that is dependent on non-renewable resources is “sustainable.”
      by that logic we should be harvesting whales instead of drilling for oil.

      renewable resources are not infinite. as the economy grows you eventually run out of renewables like everything else because the earth is finite.

      • “renewable resources are not infinite. as the economy grows you eventually run out of renewables like everything else because the earth is finite.”

        The sun and wind are as close to infinite as we are likely to see on Earth. They will still be there when we are gone.

        Whales are finite and killing them would not be renewable unless we did it at a very low rate. So I don’t see what you’re saying.

      • These days “sustainable” means that we should conserve anything except time and other people’s money. The last ones certainly isn’t infinite but greens especially doesn’t seem to have any problem wasting them.

  20. From the article: “Rain forests in Indonesia have been cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations, so that feedstock for biodiesel can be shipped 10,000 miles to Germany to meet biofuel targets.”

    That’s just crazy.

    • The full paragraph reads:
      “Paradoxically, policies to “fight climate change” are causing deforestation. Biofuel programs pursued by Europe and the United States during the last two decades caused an additional 41 million hectares of land to be used for ethanol and biodiesel production, an area the size of Germany. Rain forests in Indonesia have been cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations, so that feedstock for biodiesel can be shipped 10,000 miles to Germany to meet biofuel targets.”

      And yes, TA, as you correctly say, “that’s just crazy.”

      My expertise is in energy, and when huge areas of tropical rainforest in Asia and South America are being clear-cut to grow biofuels, vital aquifers in western USA are being drained to grow corn for fuel ethanol, and forests in eastern USA are being cleared to provide wood pellets for UK power plants, I am shocked by how idiotic and destructive the greens have become.

      These people truly are crazy – their energy policies are utter insanity, worthless as producers of useable energy, and highly destructive to the most fragile environments on our planet.

      When the green movement started in the 1960’s, the objective was to clean up real pollution and improve the environment – but the latest crop of green nutcases have instead done enormous harm to both humanity AND the environment.

      • ‘My expertise is in energy….’

        Allan is not very good at that. To be fair energy is a big field. My expertise is making electricity with nuclear power. However, Allan then talks about geography, geology, and the environment. Which are also large fields.

        Allan is a clueless Canadian who apparently does not know where corn and trees are grown in the US. It sounds like he is repeating things written by clueless Brits that I have read on the internet.

        You can find lots of stuff to support to support an agenda. There are college professors at UC Berkeley and Cornell that can explain why Indiana farmers should not grow corn. There is a professor at Stanford who think we can power the 100% grid with with wind.

        Like Allan they are not experts.

        I happen to be a frustrated expert on certain aspects of using biomass to energy. I did not start out an expert. My company was asked to look at solutions for some local environmental problems. I started researching the issue and found out others in my company were working on the same issues.

        Experts solve problems by applying science and engineering.

        The frustration comes from so called experts who explain why it is crazy. Their logic is that if is a bad idea one place it is a bad idea everyplace. They do not solve problems they get in the way of those who do.

        For example, I have a mountain of wood waste or dried corn that is an environmental hazard. I can not open burn it and I can not dump into the river. One solution is to pay to have it sent the landfill.

        Another solution is to find someplace nearby where they are trucking in oil; to fuel a boiler. The energy content of corn or wood can replace the oil.

  21. OK.

    Drax Power Station.
    4 Giga Watts when going at full chat. =Maybe 10% of UK electricity demand/consumption
    The owners want to make it 100% wood burning

    NotALotOfPeeps found out that burning wood pellets for electricity generates 920kg CO2 per MWh
    Hence Drax, burning wood, will produce 3,700 tonnes of CO2 per hour

    Someone upstream here said that Douglas Fir in Oregon captures 11,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year
    Almost exactly 5,000 kilograms

    Therefore Drax will burn 740 acres of Douglas Fir – per hour
    Or 6,500,000 acres per year

    Do you assume a 30 year rotation?
    Hence we need 1.9 billion acres to provide electricity for the UK

    Somewhere 30 times the size of Oregon – just to supply the UK with electricity
    Then we double that with electric cars – just cars alone, never mind all the trucks
    Then another doubling for home heating?

    Currently in the UK domestic home heating market, there is a shortage of wood pellets.
    The excuse being that *dozens* of wood burning power stations are coming online across Europe

    Only in the most crazily insane world can such a thing ever work

    and forests are expanding in size and extent you say
    wtf are you smoking/drinking/eating?

    • Peta

      In the end common sense wins out. Heating with wood only makes sense if you have a free of very cheap local source of wood that avoids taxes.

      What makes energy expensive is the hidden taxes.

      Transportation of fossil fuels or wood is the utimate limiting factor. This where large nukes take over. Rather than small nukes, small wood burning plants can take advatage of local supplies of wood waste.

      This not some futuristic scenario but describes how we do things now with existing technology.

  22. I would like to be positive, but I read things like:

    Approximately 450,000 square kilometres of deforested Amazon in Brazil are now in cattle pasture. Paraguay, southern Brazil, and northern Argentina have allowed Big Agra to cut down thousands of hectares of forests to plant transgenic soybeans. 4.4 million tons of wood pellets were cut from American forests last year to be burnt for energy…

  23. Excerpted from above published commentary:

    The felling of forests is blamed for habitat destruction, species extinction, and greenhouse gas emissions ………

    About 30 percent of US forests disappeared, with most vanishing during the 1800s.

    As a learned Biologist and a life-long avid student of the natural world around me, it is my honest opinion that iffen an honest and unbiased scientific study was conducted, …… it would prove that the felling of US forest during the 1800s and early 1900s, …… for the purpose of creating farmable land and for providing lumber for building homes, businesses and the “great cities”, …… was not responsible for any severe instances of “species habitat destruction” or the cause of any “species extinctions”.

    On the contrary, very few animal species can survive in a heavily forested area simply because of the lack of food. Thus, the early “timbering” of the US to create farm and/or croplands actually created tens-of-thousands of acres of food producing “species habitat” and the species populations began increasing accordingly. Small prey animals, songbirds and raptors are probably the greatest success stories, along with their predator animals.

    And it wasn’t the destruction of the US forests that caused the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It was the unrestricted “harvesting” during their migrations.

    • Must be the alignment of the planets today Samuel – I agree with you regarding North American forests. They are too dense to support much life, especially larger species.

      I am most concerned about the widespread clear-cutting of tropical rainforests.

      • There are places in Siberia where the forests have not been cut or touched in centuries. The trees grow so thick in numbers that it’s near to impossible to get through on foot. This heavy forestation saved many small villages from the rampages of the Mongolian horde. I don’t know exactly how many different species of birds and other animals there are there, but the fisher cat is one of them, and the bird species are innumerable. This is what will happen in the ‘no-go zone’ in Ukraine near Chernobyl. It took barely 20 years to revert to wilderness.
        The larger species know how to get around quite well in denser old-growth US forests and everywhere else. A good example is the elephant population in Vietnam. Just because they choose to stay hidden from us prying humans doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

      • I used to consult on slope stability (large landslides and how to avoid them) to mines in the Canadian Rockies. Because there were extensive reclaimed lands that had been planted with grasses, there were remarkably healthy herds of large ungulates that chose to populate these areas because they could access large quantities of food. These herds were magnificent – huge, healthy specimens in considerable numbers, which were sustained very well because the reclaimed meadows provided them with ample grazing. This was in Central Alberta, west of Hinton.

        In the Southern Alberta Rockies, the government of Canada decided to shut down some small older hotels and motels near Radium Hot Springs, reportedly to “protect” the large ungulate herds that had congregated there. This struck me as ill-founded, because the reason the ungulates chose to locate there was because the forests had been cleared in a relatively small area around the facilities and the grazing was much better than in the forests.

        It seems that many so-called “environmentalists” have not spent enough time studying what actually happens in nature, and have a Pavlovian opposition for everything that humanity does, even when it clearly benefits the environment.

        A good example is the increase in atmospheric CO2, reportedly due to fossil fuel combustion. Enviros say it is bad, wrong, terrible, destructive etc. etc. etc. and they are clearly wrong and utterly delusional in this belief.

        The evidence is overwhelming that increasing atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to humanity AND the environment through improved plant and crop growth.

        Furthermore, there is NO credible evidence that increasing atmospheric CO2 causes dangerous global warming OR wilder weather. NONE! Global warming, aka climate change alarmism, is a multi-trillion dollar scam initiated and promoted by scoundrels and imbeciles.

      • Paraphrasing …… ALLAN M. to wit:

        The evidence is overwhelming that increasing atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to humanity AND the environment through ….. was a critical factor in the evolution of dinosaurs due to the ….. improved plant and crop growth.

        I have been doing some serious pondering every now and then and one thing that I have decided is that the “rise n’ fall” of the Age of the Dinosaurs, …. (the Mesozoic Period spanning from 252 mya to 66 mya) ……. had more to do with the extremely “warm” Average Global Temperatures and specifically the “rise n’ fall” of atmospheric CO2 quantities, …… which increased to 1,800 ppm at the start of the Mesozoic, ……… increased to 2,700 ppm by the mid-Mesozoic, …… and then began a dramatic decrease to around 800 ppm at the end of the Mesozoic, …… as per defined on this proxy graph, to wit:

        A dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 “triggered” a dramatic increase in “green growing” biomass, …… which “triggered” a dramatic increase in larger & larger herbivore dinosaurs, …… which also “triggered” a dramatic increase in larger & larger predator dinosaurs ……. and then when the atmospheric CO2 began its dramatic decrease at around 149 mya ….. the dinosaur populations followed suite and died off due to starvation.

        Now tell me why that isn’t a possibility.

    • I agree, Jonny Appleseed was a real person. His grave is in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

      Just because a place is a subdivision with mail delivery does not mean it is no longer a forest. We lived in Forest Virginia. Our half acre lot had more than 40 hardwood trees that were native and few ornametal trees that we planted.

      We are currently in Shreveport, La. I was just enjoying a cardinal one foot outside the motorhone. I had to clear low hanging branches to park infront of the single wide. If you look at the satalite view, 75% is heavily wooded.

      Most of eastern Oregon and Wahington State was a barren semi-arid dust bowel before irrigation and farming. Now there are vast apple, cherry, and poplar forests. Our house in Richland was in a subdivision with large trees. We planted two more trees 20 years ago and they are now huge.

      We currently have a house in Henderson, Neveda. We have palm trees, shade trees, and a fruit tree. We have several species of birds that visit the small fountain I made. Out in the desert, there is only an occational tree found at natural springs.

      Humans like trees, we plant them whereever we go. So yes, we change things but I think it is an improvement. There is not really very many of us. I would suggest that the 35 million Buffalo that thundered across the US, change things too. The few humans back then were too busy staying alive to write studies saying how awful we are.

      • Kristi, I was educated to be and was awarded an AB Degree (circa 1962) certifying me as a HS Teacher of the Biological Sciences (and Physical Sciences). But my Teaching career only lasted 3 months …… because I was offered a job of Logical Designer of computers/peripherals @ 2X the salary I was earning as a Teacher,

  24. DEforestation v. REforestation: Black oak, white oak, red oak and burr oak are all increasing in my area, not to mention various maples and other tree species. Wildflowers, ditto.

    The invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle need to be removed, but they’re hard to get rid of because birds love the seeds of the buckthorn, an import. If anything could be used for fuel, it should be the trash species like these. Vinca, a woody vine, is another one.

    There are hundreds of invasive species like these that could certainly be cleaned out, mulched, dried and turned into pelleted fuels without damaging anything. That would be a practical solution to the issue of fuel sources.

    I fail to understand the complete disconnect between burning wood pellets to generate electricity, which creates tons of “polluting” CO2 as a byproduct, and the loss of trees which soak up water and hold soil in place, reducing flooding, as well as absorbing that same CO2.

    I just don’t get it – how can anyone be this stupid?

    • Yeah, we here in the Texas hill country have a problem with Ashe juniper, AKA “cedar”. As there is fire suppression, the juniper is taking over the environment, shading out the oaks. As fire is not practical in semi-rural residential areas, it comes down to chain saws.

    • Sara you do not sound stupid. Could it be that the people you think are stupid are just better informed than you?

      One the most significant environmental issues in North America semi-arid forest is too many trees and non-native species. Native trees evolved with fire as part of the natural environment.

      As a result of well intentioned fire suppression, there are too many trees. Too much fuel results in fire that are so intense that all the trees are destroyed. The intense fire bakes the ground into a hardpan. When it rains, soil and nutrients into the watershed causing more environmental damage.

      Since excess biomass either rots or burns to produce ghg and other more significant pollution, using it for energy is a huge improvement.

      • As a result of well intentioned ……. Government’s ignorant meddling …..

        In the 1960s and 70s, federal and state government agencies were recommending that property owners and especially farmers should be planting Autumn Olive and Multiflora Rose because they are an excellent food provider and “cover” for wildlife, especially birds.

        What a disaster that turned out to be. The birds ate the berries off the bushes, then flew off to wherever, …. where they pooped the seeds out on the ground ….. where the seeds quickly took root and made the land pretty much unusable. You just can’t cut the bushes down to get rid of them, ya have to literally dig the roots out and burn them.

    • Sara – I helped research and write a manual for invasive plant management for the forestry division of our DNR. Things like buckthorn growing within forest would take more energy to remove and use as fuel than you’d get out of the fuel (unless you are removing everything).

  25. My country – little Belgium – is listed among the countries with growing forests. I kind of doubt that, from my own personal observation. I guess it is based on biased government reporting.

    Where I live, a number of pine plantations are replaced by heathen and sand dunes, the landscape from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. Before that it was mostly birch and oak.

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