Any climate change strategy that doesn’t have dismantling the coal industry as a top priority disrespects the accelerating nightmare of climate change. That said, the film “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal” offers an intriguing consideration that probably isn’t on your “Please, Depress Me” list.
How about burning trees instead of coal? Trees provide a huggable, green solution, right? Not so simple. On a greedy industrial scale, burning wood puts more carbon in the atmosphere than coal.
The replacement trees, the ones that pull carbon out of the air, take decades to grow back. Meanwhile, you need more trees than what you cut down to draw the extra carbon you burned into the atmosphere. And that’s not even addressing the effects of turning natural carbon-sequestering ecosystems into clear cuts and less robust, monoculture fuel factories.
Wait. This is happening? As sure as you can say profits and politics, it’s happening. Energy from biomass sounds green, and it is: when you’re working with appropriate inputs and mindful outputs; and when it’s for heating instead of a far less efficient use, electricity.
Political infrastructure needs misappropriated accounting methods to meet its green energy goals. Corporate profiteers would scuttle their industrial scaled biomass thrusters in a minute were it not for big subsidies and downplayed oversight paid by we the people on whom climate change descends.
If you can heighten your awareness from only one depressing environmental film this year, look for an underreported area of concern in “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal.”