From the time of the first reporting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990, humans have dumped more CO2 into the atmosphere since the days when the earliest members of Homo sapiens walked on the earth.
The wood pellets industry is destroying our remaining old-growth forests and is worsening the effects of global warming.
Wood pellets are converted from wood using woody debris collected at mills and trees from forests that often are old-growth. The pellets are shipped overseas to be burned to power electric plants to replace coal. Supposedly, the emissions from burning the wood would be offset by the carbon capture of regenerating forests, and the industries are given billions of dollars in subsidies primarily from the US and European Union.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not give a green light to burning biomass as an energy source, and over 500 scientists signed a letter to President Biden and other world leaders urging them not to substitute burning trees for fossil fuels as a climate solution, writing, “The burning of wood will increase warming for decades to centuries.”
Global industry players, Enviva and Drax, have turned to the South where logging has been on-going for many decades with little regulation. The Enviva plant, located in Ahoskie, North Carolina, burdens its residents with severe dust pollution and a chance to witness their pristine forested countryside disappear altogether, or be “reforested” by pine tree monoculture. A study of the Ahoskie plant commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center and National Wildlife Federation found that more than 50% of the likely sourcing for the Ahoskie facility is forested wetlands containing mature and old-growth forests.
The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) released its Joint Research Centre’s report on the “use of woody biomass for energy” asking, how soon can wood biomass from forests contribute to climate change mitigation as the urgency of the climate crisis requires that any renewable technology must succeed in reducing atmospheric CO2 soon enough to help meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. With average warming already over 1 degree C (1.8F), a “renewable energy that actually increases atmospheric CO2 for decades merely contributes to overshooting the 1.5 degree C (2.7F)—2C (3.6F) target.” They emphasize, “Such technology increases the risk of dangerous climate change.”
EASAC’s report classifies different sources of bioenergy feedstock (what’s burned to generate electricity) according to the length of time before they “are likely to achieve carbon emission savings compared to fossil fuels.” The report describes the types of feedstocks that belong to each of these categories.
Christina Moberg, President of EASAC summarized the results: “Unfortunately, this confirms our worst fears that most of the current biomass in coal conversions is in the worst categories. As EASAC has repeatedly pointed out, accounting rules and public subsidies have led to an industry that is reducing even further our chances of meeting Paris Agreement targets.”
According to the Dogwood Alliance, two major financial institutions have down-rated Drax as an unsustainable business model. And Citi Group, 2021, reported, “While sentiment could continue to support what’s perceived as a green growth stock. . . we do not fundamentally see biomass as a sustainable source of energy.”
Johnny Armstrong, Author
Rescuing Biodiversity (publishing in June 2023) tells the story of Johnny's attempts at Wafer Creek Ranch to preserve a vanishing Louisiana ecosystem and restore the animal and plant species that once lived there.
“An avowed student of life and restoration ecology, Johnny Armstrong expertly teaches us how to restore an imperiled southern ecosystem based on deep research, firsthand experience, and delighted observation of the species that return to his beloved Wafer Creek Ranch. Driving his devotion is the alarming truth that loss of biodiversity poses a threat on par with climate change and his impassioned belief that society can alter that trajectory, one acre at a time.”
Cindy Brown, Executive Director
Land Trust for Louisiana
“Up there on your bookshelf between Tolkien and Watership Down is where this book belongs. As an anthropomorphic adventure that winds through the realm of animals possessing courage, savagery, perseverance, and ultimately wisdom in the face of mounting evil threats – humans disconnected from the natural world – the tale is relevant, if not necessary.”
Kelby Ouchley, Author
Bayou Diversity: Nature & People in the Louisiana Bayou Country
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Shadowshine, An Animal Adventure
by Johnny Armstrong
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