Europe’s Latest Green Mega-Folly: Burning Forests To Save The Planet – "Worse Than Coal"

We all know how do-gooder governments all over Europe and USA like to spend billions of dollars on every conceivable save-the-forests program worldwide.Well, it turns out they’re also spending billions on subsidising “green” wood-based bio-energy, which in fact is having the opposite effect, and thus contributing to the accelerated mass-destruction of forests worldwide. In the kooky world called “Green”, things always seem to work as follows:

1. Conjure up a fictitious future catastrophic problem, like AGW.
2. Demand governments enact programs designed to avert the catastrophe.
3. Watch these programs inflict real, massive environmental, social and economic damage right now.

Here’s yet another perfect glittering example from the world of Green.  The Global Forest Coalition has released a damning report WOOD-BASED BIOENERGY: THE GREEN LIE, which shines much light on Europe’s latest green mega-folly.

Journalist Stephen Leahy reports on it here: Europe’s Green Energy Portfolio Up in Smoke.

Here are some excerpts:

* In Europe’s vaunted green energy revolution 68.5% of its renewable energy portfolio comes from biofuels and burning wood for energy,

*27 million tonnes of wood biomass will be needed annually to supply planned power stations in the UK (United Kingdom).

* At least one million hectares of forest annually will be needed to feed the dozens of planned wood-fired power plants in Britain alone.

* The Netherlands is burning one million tonnes of wood annually. Germany is burning up to 16.5 million tonnes – mostly imported – and plans to double this figure by 2020.

*Deforestation eats up 13 to 16 million hectares every year and is responsible for 20 percent of the global warming emissions.

Deforestation is already a big problem globally without the biofuels boom. Promoting the use of wood material for biofuel will only accelerate deforestation.

According to Anne Petermann, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project:

We have an enormous deforestation problem already, there is no way massive increases in wood to feed bioenergy furnaces could ever be sustainable.

Leahy writes that particulate emissions from wood-burning are worse than coal, putting public health at risk. Biomass burning emits more fine particulates than coal. These invisible particles can damage lungs and make asthma worse.

Then there is all the energy and emissions involved in cutting, processing and shipping wood many thousands of kilometres from Africa, South America and Canada.

Helena Paul of science watchdog EcoNexus

Wood biomass energy is twice as crazy an idea as maize ethanol was.

Clearing the forests in Borneo to make way for palm oil plantations. Source:

Not only are wood-based biofuels ecologically disastrous, but they are also economically unwise:

Subsidies in Britain will cost taxpayers about three billion dollars a year for the biomass power plants now under construction or planned, reports Robert Palgrave of Biofuelwatch.

Journal Science has bioenergy lands covering half of the planet’s arable lands by 2065.

Helena Paul sums it up:

The potential for disaster is absolutely enormous if this takes off in Europe and America.

Someone ought to remind Ms Paul what led to these disastrous policies in the first place. One may suggest that it was the green movement’s overzealous drive to save the planet from a highly exaggerated manmade climate change claim, all fueled and fanned by the media and kook green groups.

38 responses to “Europe’s Latest Green Mega-Folly: Burning Forests To Save The Planet – "Worse Than Coal"”

  1. Brian H

    I have read that natural forest recovery on abandoned marginal farmland in the US and Canada has returned forestation in N.A. to levels even greater than when the settlers arrived.

  2. BargHumer

    Managed forrestry for this purpose would seem okay because the loss of trees is obviously zero. The polution can be controlled, and most of the energy comes from the Sun.

    However, the use of extra land for creating forrests probably means less land for growing food. Perhaps restoring the Amazon, Borneo and other places, would provide good local and legal jobs without harming current arable land for food growing.

    1. Brian H

      It is only discredited among those whose ox it gores to death. G&T have responded robustly to all (coherent) challenges, and have invited anonymous critics to respond to detailed scientific queries to establish their competence — without any (serious) takers.

      In any case, the Schack citation they give speaks for itself. CO2 radiant energy absorption and emission is measurable and relevant only at combustion temperatures, but trivial at atmospheric ones. Q.E.D.

  3. Ed Caryl

    All the “greenies” should get a stamp on their foreheads the reads “Certified Insane”.

  4. Stephen

    This is a complete distortion of my article to fit your preconceived view of the world. This is about how states’ and large power utilities are working together to profit from one problem while ignoring the ‘downstream’ impacts.

    You ought to know who makes the policies in Europe and the rest of the world – hint it ain’t the greens. I go to those boring policy meetings – the greens aren’t there and if they get in the door they’re ignored. Course it all depends on your definition of green – is Merkel green? Ok then aren’t we all green?

    But shouldn’t you be thankful the real greens have the guts and determination to do the hard work of research and warn the public about this biomass policy?

    And don’t twist to my work and words to justify your rants. It’s dishonest and lazy.

    News Flash: Climate change is real. I’ve spent 10 years reporting on the science. Show me the science that proves otherwise. (and spare me usual denier trash about the hockey-stick, solar cycles, climatgate, etc – seen it 100x. There is nothing in it but people unwilling/incapable of accepting responsibility)

    Reply: Thanks Stephen for your comment.
    “You ought to know who makes the policies in Europe and the rest of the world – hint it ain’t the greens.”
    Most major political parties in Europe have adopted strict green policies, and are vigorously pushing a green agenda. Of course, big corporations have figured out how to exploit it all. To me it doesn’t really matter who’s setting the policies. More important is: why are such policies being enacted in the first place? The policies were and are being enacted because they were and are understood as being “green”, and thus good for the planet. Of course, many are, in reality, extremely bad for the planet. Too bad these things weren’t thought out more carefully by COOLER heads beforehand.
    So why were such awful policies and programs enacted in the first place? If you’ll recall, it’s all based on the premise that manmade CO2 emissions are overheating the planet and that the world has to act now, and decisively to avert a catastrophe – it’s a planetary emergency we were told time and again. Green groups were at the forefront in communicating this extreme urgency.
    You’re not going to deny this, are you?
    So European governments, eager to be a model for environmental responsibility, and wanting to lecture the rest of the world, hastily, without properly thinking it through, enacted policies and progams that are now wreaking a disaster. Those of us who spoke up against this were called deniers and dismissed as industry hacks, or worse. Many green groups cheered on these policies – until of course they realised what a disaster they are.

    Of course I’m happy now to see that some factions among you are speaking up. It’s high time I’d say. In the future I hope that policy making will be taken over by cooler, more thoughtful heads, and not by panicked heads. And strange how your new warnings are being largely ignored by the media. Maybe they’re too embarassed about it. (They were among the big cheerleaders for these half-baked green initiatives). Anyway I do hope you’ll continue informing the public about this opened Pandora’s box. Good luck closing it. -P Gosselin (PS: I’m very tempted to add this folly to my growing list of climate science scandals)

    1. Stephen

      Let’s set Climate Change aside for a moment. Would it not still be better to reduce our use of fossil fuels? They’re expensive, pollute the air (smog) and we’re running out of them. So why isn’t that reduction only happening when it creates new business opportunities or favours business as usual for car companies, coal, oil companies and so on. That is at the root of “good ideas gone wrong”.

      Blaming the greens is a distraction from the source of the real problems.

      And manmade CO2 is overheating the planet and turning the seas acidic, the science is quite strong on this. Despite the urgency we do have to be careful to not make our many environmental issues worse.

  5. Ed Caryl

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. We literally don’t know what temperatures have done in the last hundred years. The Surface Station data has been so compromised by improper siting, cherry picking sites and data, urban warming, choice of paint, improperly designed instruments, site changes, sloppy record keeping, lack of continuity of staff, instruments, time of measurement; I could add more but I’m picking this out on an iPhone, suffice to say, those compromises make the surface record useless for even guessing if the temperature has gone up or down. The satellite record is too short, but shows no significant increase. Those few surface stations that are isolated, continuous, and well documented show a small warming over the last 150 years since the end of the little ice age. No one ca state with any lack of contradiction what the CO2 warming factor is, or even if it exists. AGW is alternately supposed to cause drouth and increased rain, yet the long term trends are flat. Right now, all I see that AGW is causing is money. Book follows! Done on a proper keyboard!

    1. Stephen

      Ed, those surface station allegations which have been copied endlessly on blogs have all been disproven. More accurately they were never true in the first place. Scientists aren’t naive or dishonest they knew there were problems with some and didn’t use them. Furthermore no one uses one data set, there are many other proxies to gauge the accuracy of the temperature record from surface stations. It’s solid and so is the ice core data.

      Here’s the US weather service explanation

      That CO2 is a greenhouse gas has been known since 19th century. Be a damn cold planet without it. I suggest you stop reading blogs and look at some climate science textbooks.

      1. Agile Aspect

        I would argue you should be reading chemistry and physics books and ditching the climatology books.

        You don’t need climatology to do chemistry or physics, but you need chemistry and physics to do climatology.

  6. Ed Caryl

    So each side accuses the other of perpetrating a hoax. Hum. I started looking into this about a year ago, not making a judgment for a long time about who was right. After a time I discovered a pattern. The AGW proponents all have the same attitude: our way or the highway! The other side is simply pointing out the problems. One difference between the sides that I have noted: age. The non-believers are older and more experienced. As am I. My background is Physics, and I’ve been making measurements, all kinds of measurements, for over 50 years. In my book, there is no such thing as Climate Science, there is only Physics, and a small amount of Chemistry. I’m not convinced by bluster, only facts.

    1. Stephen

      I’ve been writing about climate science for 15 years and I can point you to dozens of very senior physicists 60+ who are firm supporters based on the data. I don’t understand your characterization of “sides” that’s not science that politics. I don’t see many facts in your comment.

      It takes a lot more than physics to explain climate. Living things absorb and emit CO2 etc.

      Reply: Almost no sceptics believe that CO2 does not have an effect. The sceptics are sceptical of the proposed magnitude climate change. Many argue that the impacts are and will be modest at most and do not warrant a complete, expensive, painful re-engineering of society. Non-alarmist claims are based on what the data show. No one can say that we are headed for a disaster. The data doesn’t show it. The warming from 1980 to 1998 correlates spot on with oceanic oscillations and solar activity too. Claims that physics and chemistry show GHG warming or whatever are also dubious. Whose chemistry and whose physics?
      Remember today we’re arguing over a few tenths of a degree – an amount well within the boundaries of uncertainty. The alarmists are saying this will “soon” make a sharp turn up. But “soon” just keeps getting postponed later and later into the future. And every time it does, alarmists lose credibility.
      But we’re getting off topic. I think Stephen is correct saying that government implemented bio-fuel progams are going to lead to a big disaster. Food plants will have to compete with bio-fuel plants, and fundamental economics says that’s going to hit the poor big time. Mxy question is why have governments rushed into such policies without first thinking them through? A lot of it had to do with alarmism. -PGosselin

      1. Stephen

        You should avoid those sceptic sites – they are a time-wasting, unproductive distraction. I’ll put it to you again: “Let’s set Climate Change aside for a moment. Would it not still be better to reduce our use of fossil fuels? They’re expensive, pollute the air (smog) and we’re running out of them.”

        So let’s focus our efforts on getting governments to adopt good policies and research that boost energy efficiency, reduce need for transport fuels etc and lobby against dumb ideas like biofuel which is just business as usual painted green.

        Finally given the above, if there is even a 5% chance we are on the path to climate change catastrophe, it can’t hurt to take out a little insurance.

        You do know that the Arctic is well on its way to a summer-ice free condition — so “soon” has already arrived there. And that is already affecting our weather in the northern hemisphere preliminary studies show:

  7. Ian Mott

    The dishonesty in this article is in the way it implies that the major source of wood for biomass is from deforestation rather than sustainable forestry. This is standard green sleaze of the first order. I was the forest owners rep on the Australian Greenhouse Office’s consultative panel on Land use change and forestry. I am appalled by the ignorance of the industry that passes for informed green comment. Leahy should at least be aware that only a small portion of a production forest is harvested each year and in most cases that small portion will only be a partial harvest which removes the bent and suppressed trees so the remainder can continue to develop to maturity. In such cases the volume removed in year 1 will be replaced by growth in the entire forest in less than a year. And it follows that the volume of carbon released by harvesting in year 1 was the same volume that was absorbed by the whole forest the year before. When forests are left alone their growth slows and they quickly become carbon neutral. But by continually removing part of the forest, the remaining trees are more able to grow to a size that allows the carbon in them to be placed in secure, stable, off-site storage in houses, fences, poles, books etc. And this end-product wood carbon allows the forest to make a cummulative contribution to long term carbon budgets that far exceed the on-site storage capacity of the forest itself.

    Reply: Thanks for shedding light on this. I think there’s a lot out there that’s misunderstood, and thus subject to disinformation. -PG

    1. Stephen

      I don’t see how Ian can confidentially say there will be no deforestation when such huge volumes of new sources of wood will be needed. It’s not like there are tens of millions of tonnes of wood just waiting about to be used.

      And please a plantation is a farm not a forest. The sustainability of such plantations is also a convenient fiction and their negative impacts on water, biodiversity etc are well-documented.

      Also explain how trees grown in Australia (or the Congo) and burned in Germany could be carbon- neutral.

      You are out of date about old forests being carbon-neutral. Mature forests continue to absorb carbon in their vegetation and soil. There have been several new studies documenting this:

      1. Ian Mott

        This paper you link to is nothing new, Stephen. It is yet another green political statement masquerading as science. It is nothing but generalities with no specifics to apply proper testing to. One of the “several new studies documenting” this claimed continual carbon absorption by old growth was fully funded by the WWF and they did not, and still have not, provided their data for normal scrutiny. The claim that the industry view of static old growth carbon balances is based on only one limited 50 year old study is as ludicrous as it is dishonest. Foresters measure the carbon in both native forests and plantations on a continual basis, and have done so for centuries. Their findings are rarely published, being internal documents, but they consistently confirm the marginal nature of unmanaged forests, both old growth and neglected regrowth. The notion, sponsored by the IPCC, that the carbon from harvested wood is emitted on the day the tree is cut, is not only blatant stupidity, it is also a gross misrepresentation of the facts. And the making of such a misrepresentation to a policy process is highly illegal in every OECD nation. The carbon in my house is clearly not a gas and it clearly is not in the atmosphere so it cannot possibly be warming the planet. ALL the so-called research claiming that “protected” old growth delivers a superior long term carbon budget to managed forests is based on the assumption that my house is already a gas. It also assumes that the entire forest from which the wood in my house came from was clearfallen in one operation. It is bull$hit, loaded on bull$hit, and based on even more bull$hit.

  8. pgosselin

    Some readers here may be interested in downloading Stephen’s Hurricane Handbook, avaiilable at a very modest price. I’m sure it’s very interesting reading.
    Just a note on the side: Accumulated Cyclone Energy is near a 30-year low.

  9. Brian H

    Never forget that climatology is not even a field, much less a science:
    “Rather, the atmospheric greenhouse mechanism is a conjecture [= preliminary guess without evidence, which may lead to a hypothesis with pass-fail proposals, which may eventually qualify as a theory], which may be proved or disproved already [= previously] in concrete engineering thermodynamics [95{97]. Exactly this was done well many years ago by an expert in this field, namely Alfred Schack, who wrote a classical text-book on this subject [95]. [In] 1972 he showed that the radiative component of heat transfer of CO2, though relevant at the temperatures in combustion chambers, can be neglected at atmospheric temperatures. The influence of carbonic acid on the Earth’s climates is definitively unmeasurable [98].”

    “Falsification of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame of Physics,” International Journal of Modern Physics B, v23, n03, January 6, 2009, pp. 275-364. Free download at

    News flash Stephen: the entire premise of the CO2 video-game scenario models is false. CO2 has trivial climate effects. But it’s very helpful in forestry:

    1. Stephen

      The “Falsification” paper you cite has been pretty well discredited and considered one of the worst papers published in recent years.

      You claim CO2 effects are trivial. And yet every national academy of science says otherwise. And how about the melt-down of the Arctic? Increased global temps? etc,

      And it’s not helpful to forests (lots of studies show this). Trees need more than CO2 to grow. Trees have adapted to CO2 conditions of about 270-290 ppm for tens of thousands of years. Now its 387 ppm and rising — conditions they cannot adapt to because it is happening too quickly.

      Again stop reading blogs and read real science papers – all them not just the ones that fit your view of things.

      Reply: Stephen, and anyone else reading here, please tell me what value could a science that avoids and denounces scepticism possibly have? See the comment below. -PG

      1. pgosselin

        “Avoiding sceptic sites” and views is precisely the problem climate science suffers.
        Science is not about avoiding scepticism – it’s indeed about seeking it out to make sure hypotheses and theories actually hold water.
        As Nobel lauerate Ivar Giaever once said: “Science is not about proving theories, it’s about disproving them”.
        Those who have a problem with that are in the wrong field.

      2. Stephen

        PG I did not say “avoiding sceptic sites”. That’s a misquote revealing a certain bias on your part.

        I said stop reading blogs, read real science papers where genuine scientific scepticism and genuine data can be found.

        From your last para we ought to be in agreement on this.

        Reply: Might want to reconsider the blogosphere: -P Gosselin

  10. Ed Caryl

    A lot of words about the supposed meltdown of the Arctic. What about the Antarctic? Globally, Ice is very close to normal. The Antarctic is offsetting the Arctic. If the Globe is melting, shouldn’t the Antarctic be melting also? I have a project for you. The Arctic is supposedly warming up, and also the Antarctic peninsula. I prefer observation to belief. I want you to locate, in Google images, the Stevenson screens at Barrow in Alaska, Alert and Eureka in Arctic Canada, Svalbard Luft, and at Bernardo O’Higgins Station in Antarctica. People are always taking travel pictures and posting them on the web, and these images are easy to find. The principle warming at these stations is due to the following:
    1. Asphalt
    2. Proximity to occupied buildings and vehicles. All vehicles in the polar regions are either running or electrically heated. Otherwise they don’t start.

    In the polar regions especially, people are unwilling to get far from warmth and shelter. So they don’t. After finding the Stevenson Screens, imagine the temperature difference one kilometer upwind. Keep in mind that all these polar research stations are adding buildings and people every year.

    There is also a very good article on the web about Urban Warming at Barrow. It was peer reviewed and everything. It is also easy to find.

    Trees are adapting very well to the increased CO2. They are growing faster, and using less water to do so. This is true of nearly all plants. Lots of formal studies show this. The planet is growing 15% more rice and wheat on the same area because of increased CO2.

    1. Stephen

      So you don’t think scientists didn’t know the albedo of asphalt vs snow might affect their readings? Lots of arctic weather stations are remote automated stns etc… please give these guys some credit for having a few brain cells.

      Observations? I’ve been to the Arctic, and I’ve talked to dozens of people who live there… etc . Everything you’ve said is conjecture or fantasy and wrong.

  11. Ian Mott

    What a neat little cognitive side-step you have, Stephen. “Plantations are farms, not forests”, indeed. For the record, Stephen, planting trees is what competent foresters do to fill in the gaps in their natural regeneration. Both regrowth and plantation forests fall within the legal definition of forests so there are absolutely no grounds for a recent urban daytripper like yourself to simply declare that the practitioners of a 2000 year old profession have got it all wrong. It is also clearly established in both theory and practise that untended natural regrowth has a much greater adverse environmental impact than tended forests, be they naturally regenerated or planted. And you appear to assume that german demand for biomass will automatically translate into the sale of biomass from places like Borneo. The carbon density of wood is only half that of coal and this means the transport cost of biomass will be double that of coal for a product that has a market price only half that of coal. I don’t mean this in any antagonistic sense, Stephen, but your entire article is based on pure speculation, delusion and ignorance.

    1. Stephen

      Nothing wrong with planting trees, I’ve planted thousands myself as a worker in the forest business. I’ve been in a lot of forests around the world and even a child can tell the difference between a plantation with row on row of even-aged pine trees and natural forest. Legal definitions have little do with ecology. Not all plantations are like that I agree but many are.

      Your forestry theory about natural regrowth having adverse enviro impacts is nonsense – adverse to who? birds, deer, insects, water, the climate?

      Wood markets are global. The article didn’t say Germany’s wood come from Borneo – but it might. As you rightly point out this does not make any kind of sense. That is the entire point of my article. It is only happening because biomass is subsidized by govts. And as crazy as it is it is already happening.

      You should read the article again with a more open mind.

      1. Ian Mott

        Stephen, what I was trying to say was that untended natural regrowth has greater adverse impacts than tended forests, be they plantation or regeneration. The impact is primarily on catchment water yield. Regeneration after wildfires produces up to 50,000 seedlings per hectare whereas a mature forest will only fit about 100 trees to the same hectare. And when nature is left to do this culling process alone the trees spend their entire life, and a very significant portion of their energy budget, trying to strangle their siblings. People from large families might understand this more than others.
        This process produces fierce competition for every drop of water and it means that the soil dries out sooner, in the gap between rainfall events, compared to thinned regrowth or plantation. And this means that more of each rainfall event goes to restore soil moisture rather than flowing into streams. And this reduced stream flow degrades the entire riparian ecosystem. The practise of forestry involves maintaining the forest in a continuous state where each tree has surplus soil, water and sunlight. So the first response to a 50,000 seedling regeneration event would be to remove 49,000 stems so the remainder can thrive. And when these 1000 stems start to fight each other we cull the weaker, deformed half so the remainder can continue to thrive.
        This process reduces the portion of energy wasted on competition and increases the growth portion. It maintains a continual state of enhanced growth, and with this growth comes enhanced volume and nutritional value of the entire leaf, flower, fruit and sap based food chains. The ultimate “experts” in habitat quality are the wildlife themselves and they know exactly what they are doing when they favour man made forests.
        If the sequestration of CO2 is really a serious need then all “untended” forests in national parks and reserves etc should be returned to a long rotation partial harvest and regeneration regime. And even if CO2 is not a problem, this kind of forest could support a lot more wildlife, in better condition, and with more diversity if this was done. We need to get away from the green movement’s simplistic, binary, “yes/no” logic and start asking how much of each attribute best serves the tripple bottom line.

  12. Ed Caryl

    Albedo is not the problem. Asphalt absorbs heat and reradiates to the air and nearby objects, like temperature sensors. Be careful with your assumptions. I was at Thule AFB in Greenland for 18 months. I’ve been 1/2 mile INSIDE the Greenland Icecap. I’ve seen 1 inch ice crystals mounted like minerals.

    I’m glad you mentioned automated stations. They have their own problems. They get buried in snow and covered with ice, and no one is there to know or care. We are traveling this week. Last Sunday we passed an automated station just south of Estes Park, north of Denver CO. It was at about 9000 ft alongside a fairly major highway. The temperature sensor was about 15 ft up the mast and 20 ft from the edge of the pavement. When we passed it going south after a brief thunder shower, you could see the most rising off the road and wafting by the sensor. I refuse to believe that a siteing 100 ft further off the road wouldn’t be more accurate. I suspect that snowplows in January regularly bury that sensor.

    Did you do your homework assignment?

    1. Stephen

      The reason asphalt absorbs heat and snow doesn’t is the differences their respective albedos. That’s not an assumption but science.

      And apparently you can’t believe that researchers might have been able to figure this stuff out? As an American you might recognize that NOAA created the Climate Reference Network

      You are just spouting the same old stuff I’ve heard a 1000x from various blog sites

  13. Ed Caryl

    Read “mist rising off the road”. The road is bumpy this morning.

  14. Ed Caryl

    How can you “figure out” something that is variable. At Svalbard airport, one day there is snow on that huge expanse of asphalt and the next day there isn’t. Oh, you haven’t found the pictures, have you?

    Today we are passing the huge cornfields of Iowa and Illinois. I’m reminded of the fact that corn uses less water under higher CO2 levels. But that only makes the economics of ethanol production slightly less gas-tly. (pun intended)

    I want to thank Pierre for hosting this conversation. It has been fun trading thoughts with a “climate scientist”, even one with closed mind.

    Reply: Hi Ed. I think many responsible scientists and journalists are beginning to re-discover the virtues of scepticism in science and treating others who share a different opinion with respect. Somewhere along the line some scientists somehow became convinced that they are always right and that they should tell everybody else how to think and what to believe. But now we are witnessing what havoc this wreaks if left to run amok. Let all ideas have a chance and may the best one win, I say! – P Gosselin

  15. pgosselin

    I’d like to add here a quote from this MPI press release that I mentioned in my latest post. Here’s a quote which I think is important that warmists really ought to heed.

    “The savannahs owe their comparatively important role to the huge area which they cover. The rain forests, in contrast, take up particularly large amounts of carbon dioxide over relatively small areas in order to produce biomass.”

    For the folks who are very concerned about the potential impacts of CO2 on climate, protecting the rainforests should be of utmost urgency. Personally I think it’s a damn shame that this deforestation has gotten so out of hand. There’s absolutely no need for biofuels. But it was all needlessly spurred on by the “climate crisis” scaremongerers. I’m against this senseless deforestation as much as Stephen is. I really feel the enviro-wackos created a Frankenstein here.
    Reversing this isn’t going to be easy. Thousands of contracts, huge investments, business plans, etc. have been made as a result of this bio-fuel policy. All these investors would be entitled to compensation if you reversed it all now. What a mess.

    1. Ed Caryl

      Hear! Hear!

  16. Ian Mott

    Wow, Stephen, you have finally got something part right. Regrowth forests and naturally regenerated forests on previously cleared lands do provide far superior habitat values compared to plantations. They are also cheaper to establish and generally make less call on the public purse through lower tax deductions for establishment costs. This is what my family has been doing for 3 generations. So why then, has the green movement, and the urban public by default, actively discouraged this form of forestry by giving it the same legal and policy status as old growth forests? Why do groups like the Forest Stewardship Council continue to mount consumer campaigns that discriminate and deny market access to wood from multi species, multi aged forests, of the original genotypes, that are unsuited for clear-felling, that provide vastly superior habitat, both before and after harvest? It has always been my understanding that “how we get there, is what the journey is all about”. But, in Europe in particular, you promote exotic, clonal monocultures that provide minimal habitat value during the growth stage and zero habitat after clearfall harvesting. And you even have systems that “certify” this ecological abomination as “sustainable” while implying that all other wood is the product of ecological vandalism. And in the third world you give sustainability status to broadscale clearfalling by warlords and generals while the small scale selective harvests by the traditional owners is condemned as “illegal logging”.
    Many of the world’s forests are being removed because the green movement has gone out of its way to destroy the economics of continual, cyclical forest harvest and regeneration. If the traditional landowners have no property rights over the forest, and cannot sell wood from that forest then it has no value. And this loss of value actually subsidises the palm oil industry.

  17. Richard Treadgold

    The article is about finding “renewable” energy sources, underpinned by the “need” to reduce emissions of CO2, which in turn is driven by the looming “catastrophe” of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It’s not about the looming so-called “peak oil” problem.

    Most of the discussion is diverted by the “energy source” aspect and ignores the lack of sensible evidence for AGW.

    Stephen says:

    Let’s set Climate Change aside for a moment. [Of course he wants to, he can’t support it.] Would it not still be better to reduce our use of fossil fuels? They’re expensive, pollute the air (smog) and we’re running out of them.

    I could agree with reducing our oil usage, but not the necessity for regulations to accomplish it. When oil-burning internal combustion engines became available, it was unnecessary to leash the forces of industry and commerce by government decree to convert society to use the new engines; it all happened efficiently by itself. The profit motive was enough.

    When and as oil becomes harder to find and extract then the marketplace will, of necessity, devise better methods or find alternative energy sources. Let the government go hang murderers or improve our schools and hospitals, but keep their sticky fingers out of our affairs.

    You say oil is expensive. How silly! The consumer knows best. You can’t decree what I should find expensive. In fact, it is more expensive not to use oil — that’s why we use it!

    Does oil combustion pollute the air? Yes, of course it does, and we’re moving on many fronts to prevent it. Notice that it is exclusively the prosperous nations which can afford to do so. The modern motor car engine emits air, in the most polluted of cities, which is in many respects cleaner than the air it takes in.

    Note that here is a sensible use of government regulation, to set and enforce pollution standards. Not to make the engines, but to prevent them from causing harm.

    Now, moving back to the all-important question of the motive for this: what is the evidence that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 has or will dangerously warm the climate?

    I don’t ask for evidence of warming, but of a causative link between humanity’s CO2 and dangerous warming.

    Come on, Stephen, twice now you’ve done a deliberate sidestep, but now it’s time to tell us the evidence.

    Richard Treadgold,
    Climate Conversation Group.

  18. Ian Mott

    For the record, Borneo has been subject to shifting cultivation for millenia by the Dayaks. This has meant up to 30 times more land that is cultivated at any one time is in the regrowth phase from past clearing. This is clearly not old growth forest, it is actually fallow. The Dayaks were also not stupid. They could identify land best suited for cultivation and tended to leave less suitable land in its old growth form. It is also easier to clear a piece of 50 to 90 year old regrowth than clearing old growth and the fertility is comparable. So most of what is being cleared for palm oil is land that has been cleared numerous times before. Interestingly, the habitat value of old growth is much less than that of regrowth. Young growing forests (the world over) have much more vigorous leaf, flower and fruit growth than senescent ones and the wildlife invariably vote with their feet and concentrate in the man made ecosystem.

    I also note that the last two frames in the map series above are purely speculative, the data set only current to 2005. The people who manufacture this kind of green infotainment never even recognise the presence of regeneration in the landscape, let alone include it in the maps. The same happens in the Amazon where total clearing over time has been 13% but about 8% (61% of cleared area) has regrown.

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