Posted by Big Gav in biomass
The Independent has a look at complaints that large scale power generation from biomass probably isn't a good idea ("Europe is going to cook the world's tropical forests to fight climate change; it's crazy") - Who says it's green to burn woodchips?.
The issue may yet prove just to be a panicky reaction to a radical expansion of wood energy, or it may be a portent of a deep problem. If so, it will echo the evolution of biofuels, initially embraced as a universal blessing before it was realised that native forests were being grubbed up to grow palm oil, and that US farmers would switch from food cereals to fuel cereals, thus causing a world food shortage.
Some campaigners are in no doubt. Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch said: "It's almost unbelievable that we're creating vast areas of monoculture, mile after mile, just to be cut down as fast as they grow, to be shipped thousands of miles to be burned just for people's electricity. It just doesn't make sense. What about all the habitat that gets destroyed along the way?"
Simone Lovera, of the Global Forest Coalition in Paraguay, said: "Europe is going to cook the world's tropical forests to fight climate change; it's crazy." She said her group had obtained a report stating that Brazil is gearing up to meet the European woodchip demand, not by cutting down forests, but by expanding tree plantations by 27 million hectares, mostly of exotic species such as eucalyptus.
Last week, at the UN-sponsored World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, the agronomist engineer Hector Ginzo, an adviser to the Kyoto Protocol, stressed that plantations could not be classified as sustainable. He said UN rules "would never allow a plantation of eucalyptus or other fast-growing trees for use as pulp or wood to be considered a sustainable forestry project, because that kind of production favours monoculture forests and the carbon capture is lost when the trees are cut down".
The Global Forest Coalition said that, in South America, tree plantations have had devastating effects on people and the environment, and have nothing like the biodiversity or ecological function of natural forests, whether they are first or even second growth. These plantations, it said, are "green deserts" because of the amount of water they consume, and because of the lack of native wildlife.
Its not just the trees that are in danger - Inhabitat reports small furry animals in Sweden are too - Sweden is Burning Biofuel Made from Bunnies.
Scientific American recently reported that Sweden uses a pretty strange source for some of its heating fuel: rabbits. Stockholm has an overabundance of the cotton-tailed critters, and the hungry bunnies are decimating city parks. To cut back on bunny populations and create a greener source of heating fuel for Swedes, city employees round up the rabbits, shoot them, freeze them and then ship them to a heating plant where they’re incinerated. And yes, the thought of it makes our soul hurt, too.