Dr. John House said in Climate Chaos, “Decline in net energy, unsustainable mountains of debt, and climate change are just a few of the enormous problems that humanity faces. Over the next ten years, each of us will feel tangible disruptions in our daily lives related to these challenges.” His four-part series is available online in the ES Independent.
Net energy is what the economy runs on. In the old days, the energy in one barrel of oil was sufficient to extract 100 barrels. With unconventional (uneconomical and unsustainable) fracking, one barrel gives 5 to 10 barrels of low-quality shale crude.
Shale deposits are depleting. According to Forbes, March 1, 2017, “the decline in Bakken oil production that started in January 2015 is probably not reversible. Much of the reservoir energy from gas expansion is depleted and decline rates should accelerate.” Diamond is going down.
Investment banks understand the impact of declining net energy. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citibank, and Bank of America are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy. Renewable energy is a generic name for several sources of energy; some, like biomass energy, are worse than coal.
Protecting our forests
Why would anyone attempt to clear-cut a natural forest? Before the discovery of coal, charcoal was the best fuel available, made by burning wood. Charcoal was used in the Iron Age as high-temperature fuel. The use of charcoal ended when Europe ran out of forests.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing all he can to sell our forests. His deals with China’s Shandong Sun Paper, Highland Pellets, and Zilkha Biomass follow the tradition of the Crossett Koch paper cancer mill, featured last year in the New Yorker, Newsweek, and the film Company Town.
People who see forests as timber depots say biomass is renewable energy. With extreme weather, pretending to grow a 100-year old tree from a sapling is delusional. What will happen in 100 years to the slowly growing tree? How can you ignore the warming during 100 years as the tree grows? Emissions from clear-cutting US forests, at pellet mills, and shipping to the UK are ignored.
Wood pellet exports from Southeast US forests to UK power plants are growing. Burning wood pellets in the UK increases greenhouse gas emissions. Hans Ohanion, a renowned physicist, measured CO2 emissions in a controlled experiment. Burning one cord of wood, 85 cubic feet of mass, emits four tons of CO2. Please see “Is Biomass Energy Carbon Neutral? by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor.
US Forest Service deforestation
Controlled or not, burning forests generates carbon dioxide emissions and leaves stumps in the ground. Please read The 2017 Greater Santa Fe Fireshed, 107,000-acres deforestation project. Controlled burns and “forest management” projects fund USFS Districts. USFS fire-borrowing is taking funds from East forest districts to buy firefighting tanker airplanes and chemicals.
Federal Forests Deforestation Act
A July report “Flush with Timber Money, Congressman Works to Loosen Forest Protections,” says Rep. Bruce Westerman received $100,000 in timber industry donations to push a bill relaxing environmental regulations. This is wrong. The “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017,” according to Westerman, will make our federal forests healthy again. Truth be told, there is nothing resilient in this Act; it would give the Bureau of Land Management and USFS a free pass to sell timber without public comments or environmental reviews. Please call Westerman and ask him to stop this Act.
Environmental Resources Dismantled
To promote exports of oil and gas, the current administration is rolling back climate and emission-free energy initiatives. During the Obama administration, 130 professionals worked at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, including a director and four assistant directors in the Energy and Environment division. Now, all the top positions are vacant. Only 38 people are left. The Energy and Environment Division, which led efforts on climate, oceans, clean energy, and transportation was demolished. Fifteen key positions, including the assistant directors, are vacant.
The only response is NO
We will not allow deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Dr. Luis Contreras