Wood Burning Stoves

Followers of my blog will know that I have been warning about wood burning stoves for some years. Let me make my position clear. There is no harm in having a few wood burning stoves in rural locations where there is a plentiful supply of waste wood. However, large scale deployment of wood burning stoves and boilers is wrong. They have two complimentary faults. They use wood which is better left to decay naturally over a long period of time, keeping the carbon locked in or leached to the soil and they create carbon dioxide emissions when the wood is burnt. Continue reading

Port Talbot Biomass Power Station gets its permit

I have always thought that biomass power stations, like that one that is proposed in Port Talbot, are a mistake; they start from the premise that biomass is renewable and sustainable and that biomass power stations will ensure that the trees used are replaced with new planting. I do not think that it is as simple as that; the carbon cycle is more complex and plenty of carbon emissions will not be replaced by new biomass growth. Continue reading

Unintended environmental consequences

The law of unintended consequences provides that if you fix one thing you sometimes in fixing it break something else that wasn’t broken. Sometimes it works the other way around – you do something wrong – like Alexander Fleming keeping a dirty laboratory and you end up with penicillin.  Nowhere is this law more inevitably applied but studiously ignored than in environmental matters.

Not everything we do to mitigate climate change has a good effect, not everything that is supposed to be harmful is without a good by product. Take flying – virtually everyone takes flying as a harmful source of carbon emissions high in the atmosphere where they do the most damage. Correct. However flying creates vapour trails which diffuse light, cooling the effect of global warming and probably shielding us from the worse global warming scenarios, for a bit anyway.  Continue reading