Bekijk het!

Round the world

Blind spot  

 As we all know, the loss of snow en ace in the polar regions leads to a lower albedo, which causes the earth to absorb more heat of the sun, raising the surface temperature.

A similar process is visible in deforestation. A very popular type of wood modern cutting is to completely clear vast forested areas, leaving wastelands, instead of only taking the fully grown trees. This method has become especially popular with the introduction of biomass.  

What seems to go unnoticed, however,  by environmentalists,, is that trees have an important function besides purification and foto synthesis. They have a cooling effect: each fully grown tree replaces five to ten airco systems. What it boils down to, is that each year worldwide, including Europe, billions of these ‘airconditioners’ are being removed, to leave behind a frying pan,: the coolness of the woods replaced by the sweltering heat of the summer sun burning on the black soil covered with little or no vegetation. And it will take decades for nature  to regenerate – if ever: as for forestry,The EU does not have a coherent strategy. Forests are not even mentioned as a specific target in environmental projects. There are hardly any federal cutting restrictions. Note also  that nearly half of the harvesting of wood (42 percent)   in the EU is used as biofuel.

More and more of these dark, barren landscapes, are surfacing as gaping wounds in Siberia, the Baltics, Scandinavia, the Americas. My question is: have these particular phenomena ever been thoroughly examined . Could it be that we are dealing with a blind spot here? Besides focusing on fossil fuel, shouldn’t we start to face the consequences of what initially seemed to be a good idea: using wood as biomass as a transitional form of energy, now turning into a real nightmare, especially for the inhabitants of the affected areas. . In many ways, biomass has shown to be truly disastrous. . Burning wood as a form of energy  is a medieval practice that should have been banned a long time ago. It is this combination of factors that give rise to anxiety: deforestation, causing desertification, with a higher risk of forest fires, water shortages. Recent reports show that 67 percent of European soil is way below standard, due to erosion.. . Could it be that the practice of complete removal of forested areas,, including the (fertile) soil, plays a significant  role here? 

And then, of course, the huge effect on the atmosphere: even in the form of pellets there is a high concentration of particulate matter and co2-emissions, higher than most forms of fossil fuel. And what remains grossly underexposed in the media is the fact that the removal  of vast forested areas in the short term leaves millions of tons of co2 in the atmosphere that otherwise would have been filtered out by the woodlands that have been harvested as biofuel – a significant  fact, not included in the European publications on climate issues. The EU argues that every tree will be replaced. Even if this would be the case, that will take decades before these newly grown trees will be abel to take up greenhouse gases. And exactly these next decades a crucial in the fight against climate change and higher temperatures. To discard this important fact is, in my view,  an act of ignorance, bordering on criminal negligence.

Saving nature and fighting climate change with a taboo on trees is like playing cricket without a bat.

This article is an extract from a letter to 

Prof F Otto

 Environmental Change Institute

© 2023 J Nijzink