Proponents of wood burning often claim it is “carbon neutral”, so it is ok. In addition, wood burning provides jobs for loggers, etc.

Proponents fail to add “over a period of at least 80 years”.


Assuming a tree is harvested after it is has sequestered CO2 for about 40 years. Burning that tree immediately releases that CO2.


That CO2 would take at least 40 years to be sequestered again due to new tree growth.


That process cycle, 1) sequestering for 40 years, 2) burning 3) sequestering again for 40 years is called “carbon-neutral”, however, the cycle lasts at least 80-years; an inconvenient truth not mentioned.


NOTE: Actually, the process cycle is about 85% "carbon-neutral", because no process is 100% efficient. Various resources and a wood burning plant were used as part of the process, all of which required energy and emitted CO2; another inconvenient truth not mentioned.


Burning wood emits even more CO2 per million Btu than oil, coal or gas; another inconvenient truth not mentioned. That CO2 will become part of all CO2 in the atmosphere.


Vermont’s forests already are 100% busy, 24/7/365 sequestering only 4.0 million of Vermont’s 10.0 million metric ton/y. The additional CO2 of wood burning would not be immediately sequestered, because there is no spare forest to do so.


Regrowing the wood that has been cut would take at least 40 years, so the CO2 of the first year of burning would take at least 40 years to be sequestered. The CO2 of the second year of burning would follow the same cycle, except shifted by a year on the timescale.


Each year, the CO2 addition of wood burning is quick, but the sequestering decrease is very slow. In NE it takes at least 40 years to regrow the wood, so eventually almost as many years of CO2 would accumulate, provided the forests maintain their sequestering ability.


By year 50 the wood burning plant would be closed, but its accumulated CO2 would take at least another 40 years to become zero. So the whole cycle becomes: 1) 40 years of tree growth and CO2 sequestering, 2) burning for 50 years, 3) 40 years until all CO2 is sequestered.


NOTE: It is BETTER to burn wood RELATIVE to burning fossil fuels over a period of about 80 years, because the forests will eventually absorb the wood burning CO2, but not all of the fossil and other manmade CO2. The proof of that is the CO2 buildup in the atmosphere, etc. See Chapter 6 of this study. See Exhibit 6-2a and 6.2b, and APPENDIX 1.


The above describes the CO2 lifecycle of just one wood burning plant.


As a large number of wood burning plants have been operating all over the world over hundreds of years, there permanently is a quantity of wood burning CO2 in the atmosphere; the more wood burning, the greater the quantity.


The same is true for the world’s forest fires. As there are a large number of forest fires all over the world on a permanent basis, there permanently is a quantity of wood burning CO2 in the atmosphere; the more forest fires, the greater the quantity. See Global Carbon Budget 1959-2016 in URL.


NOTE: Forest fires do not use various resources and a wood burning plant hence they are much closer to 100% “carbon-neutral”.


Vermont Natives and Europeans: In 1600, there were about 8,000 natives in Vermont, about 1 person per square mile of land. They had selected the best areas, near lakes and streams for their style of living. The men were fishing almost every day of the year, and they were hunting year-round, while the women were gathering and engaging in some agriculture using fish as fertilizer. They lived in small, cleared areas connected by paths through the forests for thousands of years. They travelled on foot and with dugout and birch-bark canoes.


In the early 1600s, because of epidemics, likely due to contacts with Europeans, most of the natives died, and many of these areas were abandoned, and taken over by Europeans, and are now covered by cities, towns, roads and other man-made detritus. In the 1800s, the Europeans deforested Vermont, which destroyed much of the fauna and flora of the forests, and of the lakes and streams. Vermont’s remaining natural habitat (also adversely impacted by humans), that would be more or less suitable for the native style of living, likely could not support anywhere near 8,000 natives.


For example: Fishes were a major food and fertilizer supply to natives. There would be much fewer fish in Vermont, if there were no state fish hatcheries. How would the natives grow crops without fish as fertilizer?


NOTE: Some 100% RE folks, such as Energy Independent Vermont, c/o VPIRG, Montpelier, VT, think 625,000 Vermonters should be energy independent. That would mean obtaining ALL of our primary energy for electrical and other uses from Vermont sources, and to be truly “pure”, it would mean disconnecting from the NE grid, so as not to use it as a crutch. Vermonters would still be importing almost all of their food and other goods and services, which required energy from mine to final user. It appears, 100% RE folks either live in live in LaLaLand, or failed to think this through.


Clearcutting in the 1800s: By 1880, almost all of the natives had died off, and 80% of Vermont's forests were gone. The underground biomass that had gathered and retained minerals and nutrients to sustain the forests over thousands of years had died, and those minerals and nutrients were dispersed and leached out of the soil over the decades.

New trees grew back on that depleted soil, but many of them were spindly, sickly and short-lived. They were only a pale copy of the abundance of big trees that were possible before.


Acid Rain From 1950 Onwards: Since about 1950, acid rain (containing sulfur oxides) came from the Midwest, which doused the trees with an acid bath due to snowmelt every spring, and with multiple acid baths due to rainfall year-round. At present, about 50% of aboveground tree biomass is spindly, sickly and short-lived, per surveys of the US forest service. See URLs at end of article.

NOTE: Biomass Energy Resource Center, BERC, a division of VEIC, claims because 50% of aboveground tree biomass is low grade, net available low grade, NALG is high, i.e., Vermont's annual forest harvest could be much higher, i.e., NALG should be fair game for logging. However, Vermont's weakened forest likely needs all of the NALG to rebuild itself, i.e., none of it should be used for harvesting. Not harvesting NALG would not in accordance with the rah-rah harvesting to achieve their RE goals, as advocated by BERC, VEIC and others.

People in the logging business want to cut and remove those “junk” trees for firewood, chipping and making pellets. However, that "junk" wood should be chipped and spread on the forest floor to more quickly provide minerals and nutrition to the soil, so healthy trees eventually could grow again. It is called conservation and restitution. See URLs at end of article.


The damage to the soil from clearcutting in the 1800s and from acid rain from 1950 onwards, have damaged NE soils to the extent about 50% of trees are only suitable for burning. That does not mean they should be burned.

Logging forests, i.e., taking nutrients from the forests ultimately depletes the soil. Clearcutting forests RAPIDLY depletes the soil, because it kills the belowground biomass, which allows its minerals and nutrients to disperse, wash away, etc., as happened during the 1800s.

Regrowth will ALWAYS be less on lesser quality soils. The reason farmers fertilize their fields. No fertilizer leads to meager crops. Farmers have a word for poorly managed soil: PLAYED OUT.


NOTE: Often logging proponents claim loggers take the trunks and don't take any of the leaves or very many of the branches. Well, one of my neighbors, with 760 acres, gathers hundreds of whole trees from the woods and piles them up. A contractor, with a huge chipper, and a feeder crane, and a 50 ft. truck and trailer, arrive on the site. I have watched them chip hundreds of WHOLE trees (trunk, branches, leaves), up to 1.5 FEET in diameter. A whole tree is gone in about one or two minutes. The noise of that equipment is well over 100 dB.





Fossil Fuel Percentage Unchanged for Over 43 years: In the 1970s the big worry was fossil fuels would soon run out, and so we should “use them wisely”. But in the 1980s the risk changed to one of an overheating planet, and so we should not use them at all. This article shows unchanged fossil energy use from 1970 to 2013, a period of 43 years.


Fossil fuels have been 78 to 80 percent of total primary energy for at least 43 years, despite trillions of dollars having been spent on RE during the past 20 years. It appears there is plenty of FF for at least the next 80 to 100 years, albeit at higher prices.


FF CO2 emissions are only about 36.4 b Mt/51.9 b Mt = 70% of all manmade emissions in 2016. Considering the extreme steepness of the required FF CO2 reductions to stay within 2 C by 2100, which are impossible to implement (see graphs in URLs), even steeper reductions to reduce ALL manmade CO2 would be impossible as well, even if the entire world were to build only wind, solar, nuclear and hydro plants as of right now. See URLs.;


Modern Renewables Percentage: Here is a table of global primary energy consumption percentages (fuels, electricity, etc.) during the 2011 - 2015 period, which, indicates hardly any progress towards RE, despite worldwide investments in renewables of $250 - $300 billion in each of these 5 years. The fossil fuel percentage likely remained about the same in 2016 and 2017. Table 1 shows the data for the years 2011 - 2015, a 5-y period.

The total primary energy of modern renewables, including hydro, was 10.2%. The primary energy of wind + solar + bio + geo electricity was only 1.6% in 2015. That percentage likely was about 1.8% in 2016 for a growth rate of 10.4%/y for the past 5 years.


If that growth rate were extended to 2030, that category would increased from 1.8% in 2016 to 7.2% in 2030, which would have a negligible impact on global temperatures.


Traditional Biomass Percentage: The total primary energy of traditional biomass, used primarily for cooking and heating in remote and rural areas of developing countries, accounted for about 9.1%. Google: “REN 21 Renewables 2017” report.














Fossil fuels












Total renewables






Modern renewables






- Biomass + geo + solar heat






- Hydro electricity






- Wind + solar + bio + geo electricity






- Biofuels, such as corn ethanol






Traditional biomass







No process is ever 100% efficient. Biomass burning, mostly woodchips, entails about 1.25 times combustion CO2, on an A to Z basis, i.e., logging, chipping, transport, storing, processing, burning, cleaning flue gases, disposing wastes, plus all the embedded CO2 of the A to Z systems.

It takes about 80 to 100 years in temperate climates, such as southern New England, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, to NATURALLY regrow the clear-cut areas in the forests; it would take longer in northern New England, such as Maine. Google it.

It takes about 20 to 30 years “between harvests” in a Georgia, USA, climate to ARTIFICIALLY regrow the trees, in clear-cut areas in the Georgia pine forests, i.e., planted/managed forests, with periodic fertilizing, culling and pruning. That mode of growing trees is a very small percentage of all tree growing.

Millions of metric tons of Georgia pine wood pellets are exported each year to the UK, etc., for co-firing in coal fired power plants, because Brussels has declared that is “CO2-free”.





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Comment by Willem Post on March 10, 2018 at 9:14pm


You are right.

Leaving the forest undisturbed is best for sequestering CO2, but that is not what the logging lobby has in mind.

They want to cut, cut, cut.

Comment by Jim Palmer on March 9, 2018 at 9:49am

If one accepts that climate change is happening and that people are a major contributing factor, then the issues is to produce less greenhouse gases, and "carbon neutral" is just shorthand for that. Burning wood releases other greenhouse gases besides CO2. The amounts of nitrogen dioxide and methane are relatively small, but they are much more powerful greenhouse gases. And then there is the energy used to harvest and process pellets. Finally, an undisturbed area of healthy forest will sequester more CO2 than a similar area of disturbed forest, whether harvested or burned. Once the trees are cut, it may take 40 or 80 years to get back to where they were, but the undisturbed forest kept on packing away the CO2.

Comment by Long Islander on March 8, 2018 at 3:57pm

I think every CO2 conscious household should buy what I'll call a "lock block". Very simply, a sizable block of wood sealed in polyurethane or whatever sealant would preserve the wood and keep the carbon inside. Maybe 2' by 2' by 2' each so that it could be carried. They could buy one every year and stack them into effectively, furniture items, like coffee tables. Or they could just store them in their basements. Over time the amassed lock blocks could become quite the carbon sequestration badge of honor. Each could be sold with a place and vintage stamped in such as Roxbury, ME 2018. Just like fine wines. People willing to pay more could get Al Gore signature models, with some actually signed. Other collectibles could be signed by Tom Steyer, George Soros and Angus King. A secondary market of collectibles would surely evolve. And the best part....when people are screaming about global cooling 100 years from now, we'd have plenty of fuel for heat and CO2 to set free for planetary warming.

Comment by Willem Post on March 7, 2018 at 4:19pm

Long Islander,

All true, but a building life is about 100 years, after which it likely would be razed and used for land fill or burned.

There is no way 10 billion modern people can live "lightly" on the land, unless one believes in fairytales.

Comment by Long Islander on March 7, 2018 at 4:04pm

I believe Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), which purportedly could be used to build fairly tall buildings (using wood), may have a lifespan that is well above average.

Comment by Willem Post on March 7, 2018 at 10:38am

Long Islander,

Wood products have short lives; a few decades at most on average.

Comment by Long Islander on March 6, 2018 at 11:56am

Aside from burning wood to achieve carbon neutrality (if that is a desired goal and not everyone agrees), time scales notwithstanding, why not lock up the carbon in wood products Maine can sell rather than fecklessly  attempting to avoid CO2 emissions by desecrating Maine with wind turbines? Wood products could conceivably last for very long periods. The following talks about using wood for tall buildings:


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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