• anon6789@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    “When those trees get ripped out, that carbon gets released. And that comes before we process this wood and ship it … then we burn it and don’t count those emissions. This is just [an] imponderable policy.”

    A recent analysis shows it’s not renewable and adds more carbon to the atmosphere than coal and gas. But due to complicated language in the Kyoto Protocol treaty that extended the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, several nations and the European Union still allow the burning of wood pellets to be counted as such, and thus made eligible for subsidies, too. This is a tremendous problem for global efforts to slow the biodiversity and climate crises, Catanoso says.

    Trees are renewable in a short time scale. But by giving the forestry businesses free money to grow crappy monoculture “forests” that harbor no life but those trees that are useless for much more than burning, that is what gets promoted.

    Then any carbon removed from the atmosphere gets released when the pellet fuel is burned. Add in the carbon from making the pellets and all the shipping and cutting down the trees and replanting, and we’re worse off than when we started. The net pollution they say is greater than coal or natural gas.

    That’s why these people are fighting biomass as a renewable fuel. Not because trees don’t regrow, but because it is a grift of your tax dollars. One that is hurting you and our planet.

    • Captain Aggravated@sh.itjust.works
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      1 month ago

      Well here’s a wrinkle: I’m a woodworker, a hobbyist at the moment but I’m thinking of starting to sell furniture. Even at a hobbyist level building a table every couple weeks, I can generate pickup truck full of sawdust in a year. I currently dispose of this by hauling it to a landfill. I know of at least one fuel pellet manufacturer that will buy sawdust and planer shavings. Which would you rather me do with my granular wood waste?

      • remotelove@lemmy.ca
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        1 month ago

        I am curious: Have you considered making your own fuel pellets? I have seen a few DIY projects to compress sawdust and am wondering if it would be cost effective for you build/buy a machine for it, s’all.

        If you do start a formal business, paying a highschool kid to run the machine and do simple sales tasks might be feasible. (It’s not always financially viable, I get it. It would be interesting to do the math on it though…)

        (I have no skin in the related discussion. I just smelled a business opportunity and was curious.)

        Edit: If you happen to be in the US and near Colorado, I would be willing to try and put a machine together myself, actually. At least, do a preliminary CAD sketch up and see what the raw, underlying cost would be. Can you be a hair more accurate about the volume of sawdust you generate?

        • Captain Aggravated@sh.itjust.works
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          1 month ago

          I have briefly looked into doing it myself, and it’s just not there near-term.

          Not only do you need a pellet press, you need a hammer mill to make sure the sawdust is the correct consistency, and then there’s apparently also an ideal moisture content. I use kiln dried lumber so there may need to be some adjustment there…it’s a few thousand dollars of equipment, I have no personal need for wood pellets, so it would just be easier to find someone who is already in that line of work to sell or even give my grit to. Starting a business and

          I smelled a business opportunity as well; because when I make a trip to the dump to haul out sawdust and offcuts and things like that, I pay about $10. If I could sell the same amount of sawdust for $10, I’m $20 up. It would be a way to turn an expense into an income.

          I can’t be that accurate about the sawdust I generate for a few reasons: 1. I’m still working as a hobbyist for the moment, sometimes I go weeks without building anything, sometimes I build two tables at once. 2. Sometimes I build a bookcase out of plywood and it generates very little dust, sometimes I mill my own rough sawn oak and a single table makes a garbage bin full of shavings. 3. Some of my equipment gets used outdoors and I don’t bother gathering the chips (yet). It ends up blown into the woods behind my property. Last year I hauled 2 mostly full 200 gallon garbage cans of dust, chips, shavings and small scrap to the landfill.

          • remotelove@lemmy.ca
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            1 month ago

            Yeah, I get it. Sometimes the juice ain’t worth the squeeze and it’s much easier to outsource some things.

            Still though, just a preliminary search of the youtubes yielded a ton of sketchy pellet rigs just using some scrap metal and a repurposed electric motor. It would be an interesting side project, but a bit risky when it comes to time and profitablity.

            (For others watching this conversation at home, pellet stoves can be extremely efficient. They burn hot and tend not to smoke as most of the soot is burned off. They average between 70-83% efficiency, which is excellent.)

        • anon6789@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          I didnt know there was such a thing!

          It looks like a reverse coffee grinder, turning ground back into whole bits! It isn’t what I’d call cheap, but it could be interesting for the right person to do as a side hustle.

          • remotelove@lemmy.ca
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            1 month ago

            They can be cheap if you can source scrap metal and can weld. The mechanics aren’t that difficult. The biggest drawback is time and efficiency as these kinds of operations need to happen at large scales to be profitable. (Machines in this class may be more prone to weird failures, I speculate.)

            But yeah, even though we humans have a tendency to waste more than we should, we can be remarkably efficient when profits are involved. Converting trash to treasure has probably minted thousands of millionaires, now that I think about it.

            • anon6789@lemmy.world
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              1 month ago

              I admire the welders so much. I’ve done a little welding, but I wouldn’t call any of it much better than passable. It really unlocks a whole new level of diy though.

              I get a kick about watching some of these people turning various waste products and such into building materials or textiles and that is the stuff that gives me hope for the future. Lots of those operations seem to be those down on their luck in these odd places where these waste materials get pawned off, so I’m glad to see them eventually turned into something useful.

              Never underestimate human ingenuity!

      • zurohki@aussie.zone
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        1 month ago

        You’re talking about disposing of a waste product, though. They’re talking about growing trees specifically to grind into sawdust.

      • Droggelbecher@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        A good step would be to implement policy to encourage this and discourage growing trees specifically for burning

      • anon6789@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        No objections to what you are doing here. I’m from a woodworking family and have made a good number of the pieces in my house. Wood is a wonderful building material.

        You are likely not using the low quality wood from these replanted trees. People don’t want to use them for things they don’t see, let alone making something nice. It’s mainly Douglas fir.

        They are cutting down the nice trees that you and the other plants and animals do love, nice old hardwoods, many times breaking laws to using technicalities to do so, and replacing them with these firs, and nothing but those firs, so all the plants and animals are gone, and they won’t have a complete ecosystem back for about 100 years…if they leave those trees standing once they’re big enough to harvest. See those subsidies again.

        A pickup truck is a lot of sawdust. But it is not hundreds of acres a year. And it is a byproduct of your work, which I’ll assume is not legally shady or funded by taxpayers unaware of what they are paying for. You are making furniture so the wood will not be completely burned, so the carbon is still trapped in the wood, and if your furniture is of good quality, it will prevent a few generations of crap furniture being bought and trashed, so you look to be helping the carbon cycle more than the pellet industry.

        Much like with single use plastics, I wouldn’t blame you for the situation. I fault the industries conning us out of our money on things that are hurting us. It is an industrial level problem to address. You are doing the best thing you can reasonably be expected to do, but the forestry people are not. Anyone trying to group you in with them is misguided or being deliberately antagonistic.

        PS - Before posting I looked to see if you had any posts with your furniture. It does indeed look very nice! My family dealt primarily with oak furniture, and my teacher had us make many Shaker style pieces, so I recognized it immediately! Good for you, and I hope you have success and joy selling some. Anyone should be proud to display one of your tables.

        You may be Captain Aggravated, but I hope I was able to express properly my beef if purely at large industry, not at people like you without causing any further aggravation! 😅

        • Captain Aggravated@sh.itjust.works
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          1 month ago

          First of all I thank you for your kind words about my work. I didn’t really set out to become a shaker woodworker but I find myself attracted to the elegance that comes of simplicity. I plan on tackling some mission-style builds in the not too distant future as well.

          I’ve been considering what values I’d want to run a furniture shop under, and here are a few I’ve got:

          I don’t want to use exotic foreign timber in my work. What business do I have shipping birch, ebony and mahogany from the other side of the planet when I’m surrounded by oak, walnut and cherry? I live in a forest, my work need not involve a container ship and a trans-Atlantic voyage’s worth of bunker oil.

          Even then I would like to use storm fallen or culled timber rather than farmed or clear cut. There’s a storm fallen white oak laying in my uncle’s lawn that I really need to haul off to the sawmill.

          I would love to run my shop on rooftop solar and tell the power company to suck some of their coal ash back out of the Cape Fear.

          And I would really like it if I could put my sawdust and small scraps to good use, even as stove fuel. I am aware that there are forests being torn down and the wood chipped and then sent by bulk cargo ship elsewhere in the world as “biomass fuel” because “lol not fossil fuels.” Which isn’t fucking great, to say the least. I would much rather find uses for what are otherwise waste products, like my sawdust.

          I’m gonna play this a little closer to the chest but I also have similar ideas for exactly what furniture I build and how I build it.

          • anon6789@lemmy.world
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            1 month ago

            It sounds like you have a nice holistic approach to what you do. That’s great to see.

            You sound like you put a lot of care into your work and your local area. Best of luck to you and I’ll have to keep an eye out for more of your posts!

        • remotelove@lemmy.ca
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          1 month ago

          C.A. and I have been in some… eh… deep conversations before. Don’t let his name fool you though, as I genuinely believe he is a reasonable human albeit a little more expressive than some. ;)

            • remotelove@lemmy.ca
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              1 month ago

              It’s all good. We just know not to talk about m****c vs I*****al measurement systems now, s’all.

              (Just jokes!)

          • anon6789@lemmy.world
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            1 month ago

            Hah, thank you! I sometimes avoid entering polarizing chats like this one, but since becoming the !superbowl@lemmy.world spokesperson, these forest preserving things have become of much greater importance to me. Like I said, it’s wrong to try to pass blame on a handful of people making a few pieces of furniture a year when there are huge faceless companies doing the shady stuff on our dime.

            Most fellow Lemmings have been pleasant, but when you go after something that can be seen as someone’s livelihood, it can get tense fast, so I just try to be calm and clear.

            If nothing else, I got to see his furniture, which I truly did enjoy. I don’t get to browse as many of the small subs as I did on Reddit since most of my time goes to making posts and answering people’s owl related questions now, so it was a nice detour.

    • August27th@lemmy.ca
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      1 month ago

      Edit: thank you to people upvoting this comment, but I do regret it. The only good I now see in it is that it spurned further discussion and clarity. If you upvote this post, do read and upvote the parent comment and reply comment from anon6789, there are good insights there, at the very least.

      Then any carbon removed from the atmosphere gets released when the pellet fuel is burned. Add in the carbon from making the pellets and all the shipping and cutting down the trees and replanting, and we’re worse off than when we started. The net pollution they say is greater than coal or natural gas.

      This makes no sense.

      The net pollution they say is greater than coal or natural gas.

      If “they” are oil and gas corporations, I’d say that too, if I were them. Any move against our bottom line, or competition to our subsidies is fair game for attack.

      any carbon removed from the atmosphere gets released when the pellet fuel is burned

      How is that wood’s problem exactly? How did that carbon get into the atmosphere in the first place to be turned into wood? If there had been no coal, gas, or oil, that atmospheric carbon would have been from burning wood in the first place, making it a net cycle of wood. It grows in short order regardless of what we do with it; it’s renewable.

      There’s a competitor to fossil fuels, returning carbon to the atmosphere, it’s been burned literally forever, and oooh suddenly it’s the one to be concerned about, not the other carbon emitters that can only emit, never absorb? Come on.

      carbon from [harvest, manufacturing, packaging, shipping] … we’re worse off than when we started

      As if the extraction, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping for fossil fuels doesn’t emit vast amounts of carbon? If wood was harvested, manufactured, packaged and shipped with renewable energy, what’s the problem? Why couldn’t it be? If fossil fuels were harvested, manufactured, packaged and shipped with renewable energy, I’d say “cut out the middle man” and just use the renewables directly for energy. Is that your beef?

      In that case, let’s harvest that wood anyway, turn it into charcoal, and sink it to the bottom of the ocean to get carbon back out of our atmosphere permanently. If you think that’s a ridiculous undertaking, it’s even crazier to think about the absurd amounts of carbon we are digging up and plain dumping into the atmosphere every day, and that wasn’t complained about first, before complaining about wood of all things. We don’t just need to stop emitting new carbon, we need to get it back out of the atmosphere forever, and that’s not even on the radar? Hmm.

      What do you suggest we do? All I’m seeing is rhetoric is that trees are a grift, while suspiciously overlooking the fossil fuel subsidy grift.

      • anon6789@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        This makes no sense.

        That is because this is new information found by this new study, which is what has been the subject matter of this post’s interviewee, Justin Catanoso. From the abstract of the paper:

        Despite a significant increase in United States biomass energy sector activity, including domestic bioenergy deployment and wood pellet production for overseas exports, the associated criteria pollutant emissions are not well quantified in current regulatory emissions inventories. We present an updated U.S. emissions inventory, with emphasis on wood-based biomass pretreatment (e.g., drying, condensing, storage of wood pellet) and the use of biomass for energy generation. As a significant number of wood pellet production facilities are not included in current inventories, we find that this sector’s emissions could be potentially underestimated by a factor of two. Emissions from biomass-based facilities are on average up to 2.8 times higher than their non-biomass counterparts per unit energy. We estimate that 2.3 million people live within 2 km of a biomass facility and who could be subject to adverse health impacts from their emissions. Overall, we find that the bioenergy sector contributes to about 3–17% of total emissions from all energy, i.e., electric and non-electric generating facilities in the U.S.

        Biomass seems to be the source of about 3-4% of the US energy production, but if it making up up to 17% of the pollution, that is much dirtier than other forms of energy production. This paper seems to bring to light much information that was not accounted for in the past. That’s why this info may seem surprising.

        If “they” are oil and gas corporations, I’d say that too, if I were them. Any move against our bottom line, or competition to our subsidies is fair game for attack.

        Easy enough to see who funded the study.

        This work was supported by the National Wildlife Federation. Financial support was provided in part by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

        From InfluenceWatch:

        The National Wildlife Federation is one of the nation’s largest and highest-profile environmentalist organizations. In recent years, along with its associated NWF Action Fund advocacy organization, it has transitioned from being a conservation organization representing the interests of hunters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts into a left-leaning pressure group focused on global warming advocacy and promoting left-wing social causes.

        The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a foundation created by David Packard, cofounder of Hewlett-Packard, in 1964. It supports environmental causes, population control programs, and three programs created by David Packard: the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering.

        The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is a private foundation created by tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The Foundation funds causes associated with the arts, preservation of Duke family properties, healthcare in Africa, and environmentalist land-preservation efforts.

        Not so thrilled with the tobacco money part, but the rest seems solid.

        How is that wood’s problem exactly? How did that carbon get into the atmosphere in the first place to be turned into wood? If there had been no coal, gas, or oil, that atmospheric carbon would have been from burning wood in the first place, making it a net cycle of wood. It grows in short order regardless of what we do with it; it’s renewable.

        This is a bit long of a topic to get into, but needless to say, the Earth has changed a lot, mainly for the better for mammals, since the time before trees and plants existed. We could probably not have survived that world very well either.

        What I can say is not natural is how we treat trees as a society now. We don’t leave forests alone to do their natural thing. I don’t think anyone can argue that point in good faith, so I’m going to leave it at that.

        As if the extraction, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping for fossil fuels doesn’t emit vast amounts of carbon? If wood was harvested, manufactured, packaged and shipped with renewable energy, what’s the problem? Why couldn’t it be? If fossil fuels were harvested, manufactured, packaged and shipped with renewable energy, I’d say “cut out the middle man” and just use the renewables directly for energy. Is that your beef?

        The beef is not mine, and I debated for a while responding to you at all. Your account is pretty new and while not trollish, you do seem a bit fired up moreso than people I usually discuss things like this with. I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt in that you were in a rush and took my post as defending fossil fuel usage over biomass. You obviously have not looked at my post history or even my other comments in this thread if that was your takeaway from what I said originally.

        Others were making comments showing they had not looked into the content this post was made to explain to us, so I made a brief summary of what the subject of the podcast interview was working on researching and writing about. I threw in my 2 cents about not thinking biomass is not as renewable as those with financial interest in biomass may imply. I spend a lot of time promoting environmental protect, donate money, and source my own energy from renewables, so I want to be aware of what my money is going towards and to make sure I’m helping where I can, and that myself and others are educated on where their money goes as well.

        What do you suggest we do? All I’m seeing is rhetoric is that trees are a grift, while suspiciously overlooking the fossil fuel subsidy grift.

        I suggest we spend time learning current information to the best of our abilities and make educated decisions as I feel that’s more helpful than jumping down a stranger’s throat when they’re trying to save you some of the work.

        Just because I don’t specifically call out fossil fuels, nuclear waste, offshore windmill construction hurting marine life, industrial waste from renewable energy infrastructure, etc. does not automatically mean I support it. If you need me to spout off all my opinions on anything tangentially related to the topic, maybe my writing isn’t for you. I try to keep it concise so people will read it and be able to take away useful information to help form their own opinions.

        I do hope your initial comment was made with good intention and this has clarified things for you. If you ever want to discuss anything, I’m more than open to it, but I’m not here to be scolded by strangers that won’t make thoughtful replies. I did not imply anything negative in my original comments, and that is the same I expect to be met with in return from anyone worth spending my time on.

        • August27th@lemmy.ca
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          1 month ago

          I have not read your whole comment yet, but I apologize for my heated reaction. Your post came off as oil and gas promotion to me, but that’s clearly not the case. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will read it more fully later.

    • JackbyDev@programming.dev
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      1 month ago

      The least we can do is commit to regrowing a tree for every tree cut and to strongly encourage the cutting of only farmed trees and heavily discourage the cutting of true, old-growth forests.

      • anon6789@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        You will see a lot of people following the letter of the law, but not the intent. Where they aren’t allowed to log, all of a sudden there will be roads nearby parallel to another road that need to be built through those trees, or fires that break out and “cleanup” needs to be done. I believe the legal term is “incidental take” and I’m sure you can imagine how that can be used.

        There are also plenty of countries around the world where rules are just outright ignored, by the people, the police, the government, or all of the above.

        It is good to see people take on reforestation projects, especially by groups that care and plant wide varieties of native species, but there is a huge grey timber market around the world.