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Nature_and_Environment.31

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Forget Alcohol fuel

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.34}: {redleader} Wed, 10 Nov 2004 20:10:15 CST (52 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

  There are some slums that don't have regular electricity. However,
most of Chile does have the grid. In some places it is unpredictable,
but it is there. Some of the very remote areas didn't have it, but
the vast majority of the country does have an available grid system.
Chile is probably the most modernized country in South America. On
the whole it is a very connected sort of nation. Some areas in the
Atacama or in Patagonia are quite remote, but that's not where most
of the population lives. The majority of people are concentrated in
the middle regions, which consist of cities and towns that are pretty
modern. Trains, buses, and other such infrastructure was excellent.
The weak areas involved sewage not being treated and/or plants with
little or no pollution control. Supermarkets were pretty modern too.
The only really striking thing was that fresh milk was hard to buy,
and that everything seemed to be sold by Nestle. On the whole more
people were living with severe water shortages (and even that a
minority) than without electricity.

   And I'm talking about wood burning in homes that did have it. The
slum dwellers, seemed to be burning garbage mostly. Not the wood
being transported on trucks. Furthermore, the government was
promoting wood as a renewable energy source to the population-while
dragging its feet on other renewables and cleaning up existing power
plants.

   I really like Chile, and dearly look forward to the next time I
can go there. But that was one thing that sort of disillusioned me to
the idea of "wood as a renewable fuel".

Trees are a renewable resource. You just can't use very many of them.
With earth berming, a family-sized  house can get by with miniscule
amounts of wood in a Russian woodstove or something similar.>>>>>>

  Well with earth berming, a family sized house can get by with very
little of any heat source. In that case the pump can easily enough
double as a back up for both a solar water heater, and the miniscule
indoor heating needed.

   Even though trees are technically an renewable resource, I'd say
that the current global situation where in effect they aren't one in
real practice.

   To look at the gravity of the situation. Not only are too many
trees being cut down for various purposes, but the world sorely needs
to plant hundreds of millions if not billions more to help stave off
global warming and the world water crisis.

   It's true that paper is a bigger culprit. And it's also true that
paper needn't be made of trees and rarely was until the 19th century.

   What the world needs go to, is a situation where a tree is deemed
to have more value standing than it can ever acquire after it is
chopped down. Peroid.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.35}: {redleader} Wed, 10 Nov 2004 20:12:04 CST (13 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

  Sorry I wrote the following paragraph in a way that sounded sloppy.

  <<<Even though trees are technically an renewable resource, I'd say
that the current global situation where in effect they aren't one in
real practice.>>>>

    To improve it:

   Even though trees are technically a renewable resource, I'd say
that the current global situation is one, where in effect they are
not.

   Not in real practice as opposed to theory anyway.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.36}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Wed, 10 Nov 2004 21:16:51 CST (HTML)

Well, in real practice on a particular piece of property it can be more beneficial to cut some, keep the forest healthy, leave some standing and fallen dead and create a fairly stable eco-system. That produces excess wood and that can be used to heat a home. For my situation actually living in the woods it makes sense. For someone in the city it makes little sense and heat pumps, especially when there is grid power available, make a lot more sense than any other primary heat source. The idea is to reduce consumption and increase efficiency. Using technology appropriate to the situation is better than shoehorning inappropriate technology into a situation for which it is not best suited.

That's why at our house solar electric made more sense than wind, for example, and hydropower made no sense because there was no water source.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.37}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Thu, 11 Nov 2004 09:50:32 CST (3 lines)

Trees are a renewable resource where I live. Rainforest wood are
threatened, but not mainly because of export for fire wood. Locally,
yes - and for other use yes as well. Unfortunately!

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.38}: {redleader} Thu, 11 Nov 2004 16:44:47 CST (38 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

Well, in real practice on a particular piece of property it can be
more beneficial to cut some, keep the forest healthy, leave some
standing and fallen dead and create a fairly stable eco-system. That
produces excess wood and that can be used to heat a home.>>>>

   In real practice in any piece of land, there's going to be a
severe limit on how many trees are genuinely "beneficial" to cut down.

   It's just a matter of time before any "beneficial to remove" trees
(and believe me everyone from the US Forest Service to at least half
the homeowners/landowners out there tends to make this categorization
much broader than it really is) are up in smoke, and to procure any
more wood would flat out require cutting down perfectly good trees,
or importing the wood from somewhere else.

    Warehauser is particularly notorious for carrying "creative
accounting" to heights that the Forest Service would never dream of,
in terms of how many trees would be "beneficial to cut". And just how
many trees they can cut without calling them "old growth" while
keeping very large estimates of how many old growth trees there are.

    It's absurd. But true.

    The reality is that too many people make up these rationals
simply because they enjoy a "log on the fireplace" and equate it
with "the good life". I've seen many people who incorporate a wood
stove into their off grid lifestyles. But very often you still see
that they have an additional "back-up system", maybe gas, or oil, but
sometimes it's even small portable electric heaters, in addition to
that wood stove.

    Even if it is beneficial to cut down certain trees (and forests
have been able to balance themselves very well for millions of years
before humans existed) why choose a usage that will literally be up
in smoke in a matter of minutes. Why not make something lasting like
furniture, jewelry or even shirt buttons out of the wood? Given the
amount of time it takes for a tree to grow, why use that resource on
something that is gone so quickly?

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.39}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Thu, 11 Nov 2004 19:45:56 CST (HTML)

Red, there is a replacement rate that varies with climate and environment. I know what "real practice" is on a piece of private land because I've lived a quarter of a century in the mountains and provided all my own firewood from my own land for the last 10 years.

It isn't a rationale. I happen to agree with you that for city/suburban folks wood heat makes little sense and is extractive, but the reality of life in a rural area is quite different than theoretical musings from the distance of surburbia or town life.

Actually, turning the wood into something else (and not all wood can be used this way anyway) does not return the carbon to the environment. Rotting wood from downed trees and the detritus that falls (needles, leaves, etc.) return carbon slowly and burning returns carbon more quickly.

There are rural areas where burning wood doesn't work due to small valleys, temperature inversions and the like but in certain instances, like where I lived and with the majority of my neighbors, it makes sense. You would be surprised at the amount of wood that really does need to be taken out each year, and that includes factoring in leaving some trees to rot, some to be standing dead ("condo trees" we call them, habitat for all kinds of things) and thinning to make an overgrown stand healthier and last longer.

I'm guessing you don't live in a rural area.

I have no need for a backup system to the wood stove because the wood stove is the backup system for passive solar heating.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.40}: {redleader} Fri, 12 Nov 2004 12:06:09 CST (36 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

It isn't a rationale. I happen to agree with you that for
city/suburban folks wood heat makes little sense and is extractive,
but the reality of life in a rural area is quite different than
theoretical musings from the distance of surburbia or town life.>>>>>

   It would take a minimum of how much land even in a rural area.
More than most rural dwellers would have.

   Even a whole two acres wouldn't be a realistic heat source under
the best of circumstances. And most rural areas wouldn't even have
one. Unless you are talking about farmers, for whom most of the area
wouldn't even be cover with trees (unless they are nut trees or
something.) Even one acre is a lot of land for a single household to
own, in any area.

I'm guessing you don't live in a rural area.>>>>>

   I did for nearly 10 years. And there were hardly any homes in the
area that didn't have an electrical connection. And even fewer people
actually owned enough property to rely on wood long term, without
depleting it sooner or later.

Actually, turning the wood into something else (and not all wood can
be used this way anyway) does not return the carbon to the
environment. Rotting wood from downed trees and the detritus that
falls (needles, leaves, etc.) return carbon slowly and burning
returns carbon more quickly.>>>>>

   All wood can be made into something, more lasting than a few hours
of heat.

    And there is no need to "return carbon" to anything. The forest
captures carbon, from the atmosphere. Burning returns its. And with
global warming that is not a good idea. Rotting trees do return
nutrients to the forest. The only time fire is more beneficial than
rotting is when the fire is actually occuring in the area.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.41}: {redleader} Fri, 12 Nov 2004 12:33:50 CST (28 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

  Even though the rural area, I lived in for some years had plenty of
people with sizeable lots in a fast growing ponderosa area, and
plenty could always find downed branches in their lots, that still
didn't stop there from being logs sold at all the local stores. And
that includes both wood that presumably was cut down from further out
in the forrest and those commercial burn logs.

  And it was also true that 90% of the people who were buying this
stuff would have had to have had some electrical heating system in
their house (because there was no major gas utility in this area at
all).

  In areas where people truly depend on fire to cook or heat, forests
are denuded. And that's generally true despite the fact that wood is
usually the "backup system" after something else such as cow dung in
India, or this sort of low grade coal in Africa. And even then
there's a push to get out solar cookers and other things

  Or that 13th England had worst coal pollution than most the worst
industrial countries today because wood was short.

   Or that in many villages in France throughout the 19th century,
had a situation where many people simply lived without much heating.
Or in 19th century Ireland people often ate most of their potatoes
raw.

   Bottom line, wood fuel is so extremely limited, that in effect it
is only marginally at best a renwable resource.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.42}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Fri, 12 Nov 2004 16:13:35 CST (HTML)

"A whole two acres" hee hee, that's really funny red.

Our place was just under 44 acres and was pretty average for the area, which was mostly open land with lots of Forest Service land and BLM land.

You have a very citybred view of what constitutes "rural".

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.43}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Fri, 12 Nov 2004 16:21:28 CST (14 lines)

Obviously we need zoning to make sure most houses in rural areas
include enough land for a woodlot which would provide a sustainable
heat source (or income source). Here in Western Washington, that would
be about 10 acres, with at least 2 acres devoted to a woodlot. A
family could easily provide all their needs on 10 acres here with a
decent water source. Five acres total would be enough for many families.

In other areas, you would need 100 acres to fill the same needs. These
calculations can be made by somebody with reasonable expertise in land
use policy.

Of course, a good stand of native forest takes about 20 years just to
grow, and 50 to mature, so that must be taken into account. But it's
something that can be done.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.44}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Fri, 12 Nov 2004 16:28:58 CST (HTML)

In Maine, given the mixed hardwood/pine forest in which we lived, 5 acres was enough to provide a constantly renewable source of wood. In Colorado it is much more than that, more akin to the 44 acres we have, though there are folks that do fine with 20 wooded acres.

Obviously, the point of this is that what I've experienced is the exception rather than the rule for homeowners so red's initial point of wood fuel being impractical and a net negative for surburban and urban dweller's still holds true. But a blanket statement that it is negative for everyone everywhere isn't true either.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.45}: {redleader} Sat, 13 Nov 2004 15:04:25 CST (75 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

You have a very citybred view of what constitutes "rural".>>>>

   Or maybe a very global one. In much of rural India and Nepal a
family is extremely lucky to have even one full acre. Even when they
depend on it at least partially to grow their food. And they
generally use cow dung, rather than wood except for funeral purposes.
In Tibet the dead are fed to vultures often, because the amount of
wood for even a proper cremation is hard to come by. (Yak dung, cow
dung, and other things are used for cooking.) I've seen that. In
Brazil most of the families clearing rainforests to eke out of living
don't have as more than two acres.

Our place was just under 44 acres and was pretty average for the
area, which was mostly open land with lots of Forest Service land and
BLM land.>>>>>

   I suppose that you have a very affluent view of "what constitutes
rural". Even in the United States. Even when I lived in rural
Arizona, only pretty well of people had anywhere near that much land.
So even by US standards, you are obviously looking at a very affluent
situation. In rural Washington (Yes, at one point I regularly worked
in that area too.) farmers, dairyowners, and ranchers might have that
much. But obviously a small portion at best is going to be left over
for trees. If they are growing fruit or nuts trees, maybe the
diseased branches and downer trees might be used that way. But that's
bound to be pretty limited.

   To own multiple acres of land personally that don't generate any
regular income is a luxury that very few people can afford. And
that's just as true in the vast majority of rural areas. Not just in
urban ones.

<<<<Obviously we need zoning to make sure most houses in rural areas
include enough land for a woodlot which would provide a sustainable
heat source (or income source). Here in Western Washington, that would
be about 10 acres, with at least 2 acres devoted to a woodlot. A
family could easily provide all their needs on 10 acres here with a
decent water source. Five acres total would be enough for many
families.

In other areas, you would need 100 acres to fill the same needs. These
calculations can be made by somebody with reasonable expertise in land
use policy.>>>>>

  That idea is totally unrealistic. First of all, you aren't
considering the environmental consequences of routinely dishing out
that sort of land requirment to single family households. You aren't
considering that there have to be significant forests left for
purposes like carbon capture and water purification.

   And also if these folks have to make a living (even at a low
income level) then there's transportion. Unless you are talking about
whole communities where everyone telecomutes, then people will either
have to get to their place of work. Probably the overwhelming
majority will have to get to work. A minority might have some
business that operates on site, but those will still have to get
their goods to market, and meet all the necessary business contacts.

   If people are that spread out, unless everyone is hardy enough to
ride bikes with pullcarts for such long distances, rain or shine.
Then most of them will take cars. What about the gasoline involved?

   Has it not occured to you that the gasoline will take up far more
fossil fuels than you could ever hope to save, by trading even the
most inefficient electric resistance (not heatpump) on the planet for
the darn woodstove? It can guarantee it would.

   In fact such spread out communities, are a major reason for high
fuel consumption.

  And even the economics of such a subsidy wouldn't work well. It
would be hugely expensive for the government to pay for the
infrastructure involved. And much cheaper to pay for the same number
of homes, to have a hugely plush solar/wind system and enough left
over for the best state of the art heat pump on the market.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.46}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Sat, 13 Nov 2004 15:26:16 CST (HTML)

Affluent? Hardly, though that is a subjective term so I guess you can define it any way you want.

I have no idea where you lived in Arizona but rural land in Colorado, especially in the area where I lived when we bought there, was relatively inexpensive. Again, you have a very city view of things, absolutist and elistist as well. But you are welcome to it. You do seem to have a penchant for preaching at people and arguing for the sake of arguing rather than engaging in productive discussion.

I've agreed with the basic premise of your statements and pointed out exceptions but apparently you find that unacceptable and must hammer your worldview home. So be it.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.47}: Richard Witty {gisland} Sat, 13 Nov 2004 16:34:35 CST (22 lines)

In the area I live, what was rural has become suburbs.

30 years ago, a community was started outside of Amherst Ma, called
the Sirius community in a small town called Shutesbury. A great
place, with a few odd perspectives.

At the time they bought the land, it was remote. Over 10 years or so,
other non-affiliated hippies built houses near the community and
established a great visionary neighborhood, Hearthstone Village, with
an all-you-can-eat bulk foods dispensary (for $6/week), a collective
office with computers and such, community dinners, many parties, a
car cooperative, and many amazing entrepreneurs (a cellulose
insulator, a grammie-winning recording studio, my book-on-tape
business, an electric car converter, green venture capital fund,
others.)

But, it was no longer rural. It had become suburbs. Now, although the
average lot size is 5-6 acres and looks rural driving through, it is
suburbs.

What everyone could do when it was rural, is damaging now that it is
suburbs.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.48}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Sat, 13 Nov 2004 16:39:25 CST (6 lines)

>>That idea is totally unrealistic.<<

Excuse me? This is how it's done. There are zoning restrictions, land
use policies, utility districts.

We're not starting from zero here.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.49}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Sun, 14 Nov 2004 16:41:08 CST (26 lines)

Norway has been an exporter of wood and wood products for longer than
the US has existed. We live just a few kilometers from downtown
Oslo, yet also only a few kilometers from quite extensive forest
land. This land is zoned, and not being used for city development.
Oh, it is debated - but at least so far the resistance for use has
been too great. It is a great area to go for long walks, or ski or
bicycle depending on your interest and the season. There is fishing
and hunting also - and logging.

As previously mentioned, we are not down in area of woodland despite
all this use. It is true that really pristine old growth forest is
not a readliy available biotope - but we do have areas of that as
well - some of it protected (I'd personally like to see more of it
protected). During WW2 burning wood chips was used to produce an
inflamable gas used to fuel cars. The generator was big and the whole
thing cumbersome - and the engines didn't thrive too well on this.
But it worked and at least kept some taxies and small trucks going.

I burn exess wood from construction sites (or my own from rebuilding)
when I can get it - and this winter that will add some 20% fuel or
thereabouts.

I still maintain that, at least here, wood for heating is renewable
energy. The only alternative for us is electricity (some 95% made
from hydroelectric sources, the last 5% is imported and based on
coal or nuclear).

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.50}: {redleader} Sun, 14 Nov 2004 19:29:03 CST (27 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

Affluent? Hardly, though that is a subjective term so I guess you can
define it any way you want.>>>>>

   By global standards it certainly is. Even if the US, it would be a
rare situation that you could own land, that generates no income, if
you were poor and/or low income. Unless the land was being used for
some income purpose, you'd have to be at least middle class to afford
it. And since you hinted that some of this land was leased from the
BLM and Forest service, I could also add "subsidized" to the list.

Again, you have a very city view of things, absolutist and elistist
as well.>>>>

   Excuse me? To me talking of owning 44 acres of land as if it were
nothing, is elitist in the extreme. Have you not noticed that most
people simply can't afford a plot of even half that size?

    Excuse me? This is how it's done. There are zoning restrictions,
land
use policies, utility districts.>>>>>

    Zoning single household (non farm) properties at a level where
everyone can grow enough wood for their home in that area, is a
pretty colorful idea of a good zoning policy.

    Have you not considered the extra transportation involved? Or the
extra infrastructure involved?

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.51}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Mon, 15 Nov 2004 19:25:58 CST (8 lines)

Red, there's been a land use battle going on for many years between
developers, who want to build and sell houses on l/2 acre properties
in rural areas, and conservationists, who think 5 acres minimum for
rural land use is a compromise. You might be interested in looking
into some of the issues in this regard in King County. It's a very
interesting problem and an environmental situation that requires
constant vigilance if any farmland or any wooded land is to be saved
at all.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.52}: {redleader} Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:19:27 CST (8 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

   Frankly it's a fool's plan. It would be much smarter to have
growth limits in certain areas. The problem there isn't that land
plots are "too small". The problem is that already developed areas
are being abandonned and turned into slums or abandonned areas,
while open space is being taken it its place.

    The root of this problem is actually social, not because the
whole "good sprawl" idea was ever realistic.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.53}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:54:41 CST (2 lines)

Well if you want to do anything about it, you have to sit on
committees and read technical reports.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.54}: {redleader} Wed, 17 Nov 2004 18:39:23 CST (3 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

  Be that as it may, the idea of 5 acre plots as a minimum would
make it so that fossil fuel use would be impossible. Better to limit
development to certain corridors.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.55}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Wed, 17 Nov 2004 23:02:59 CST (3 lines)

Sure that's great, but try to do it! Most people think Washington's
Growth Management Act is extreme in the direction of environmentalism,
while in truth it was a huge compromise.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.56}: {redleader} Thu, 18 Nov 2004 12:20:48 CST (13 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

   I see nothing extreme. Rebuilding old districts is something
cities and towns have done for millenia. It's called not having
infinite land to expand on.

   A five acre minimum might make sense if the area was zoned for
farming, but not just so household can have a decent supply of
firewood!

    There are some plans to use various forms of relatively
unpolluted waste for fuel (coffee grinds, pressed recycling waste,
sunflower seeds for a sunflower oil plant, etc), but what the supply
will be remains to be seen. Either way it is better than cutting down
trees.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.57}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Thu, 18 Nov 2004 12:25:48 CST (6 lines)

I didn't say YOU thought the GMA was extreme. I said a large part of
the population does, and they are electing Republican county
commissioners, a Republican Commissioner of Public Lands, and possibly
a Republican governor.

What are you going to do?

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.58}: {redleader} Wed, 01 Dec 2004 22:14:43 CST (1 line)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

  Fight them of course.

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