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Wood Burning is Carbon Neutral

Wood burning is carbon neutral.  For thousands of years, wood burning has been carbon neutral. Now that we face a climate crisis, some people have concluded that wood burning is no longer carbon neutral.  What changed?

Here's what hasn't changed:  People believe the science they want to believe.   Some think all forestry is unsustainable.  Other's freely admit that renewable heating is possible with wood as long as wood harvests don't outpace forest growth.  There's ample proof that forests in the United States are not being over-harvested.  On the contrary, there is a significant problem, especially in the Northeast, with lost markets for wood that would be used as fuel.   This is one of many factors leading to lost forests due to development and conversion to agriculture.  It is the age-old if you don't use it you lose it syndrome.

Graph Courtesy of Robert Malmsheimer

Graph Courtesy of Robert Malmsheimer

What has changed recently and what is equal parts frustrating and interesting is the concept of carbon timing.  Some folks say that a tree cut and used as fuel doesn't grow back for about 70 years.  They say that until those 70 years have passed there is more carbon emitted than absorbed.   It's the age old forest vs. trees situation. As Robert Malmsheimer from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forest has pointed out, among other things, scale matters.

Mr. Malmsheimer's complete presentation about carbon emissions and renewable heating with wood can be found here:

 https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c6c29c_852c0895730a4707a109891759c00a3c.pdf

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