Should I Burn Wood?

Photo of wood burning

by Dave Mance III
Editor’s Blog – Northern Woodlands
Dec. 13, 2013

Environmental scientist Robert Cabin pointed out recently in a story that ran in Earth Island Journal that political liberals in general, and environmentalists in particular, can put an inordinate amount of faith in science, to the point where it begins to resemble religious fundamentalism. “When it comes to public policy making, we often hear that we should base our decisions on ‘the best available science’,” Cabin writes. “Want to know how to reform our education system? Look at what the studies say. Want to improve our health care system? Examine all the research on the subject. We are happy to place ourselves at the mercy of the “experts.””

I was thinking about this the other night when I went to see Dartmouth Professor Andrew Friedland give a talk entitled: Should I Burn Wood?

Friedland has gotten some buzz recently for calling into question current carbon accounting practices where it comes to fuel wood. His research shows that deep, mineral soil carbon reserves can be affected by logging, and he theorizes that disturbing the surface of the soil might stimulate microbial activity, which in turn might cause deep soil carbon reserves to be released into the environment. He’s spreading the word that wood as fuel may have a greater effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than previously thought.

Friedland is not anti-wood; he made it clear in the presentation that all energy comes with a cost…

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