UKTC Archive

Re: Dsiposal of Waste

Subject: Re: Dsiposal of Waste
From: Tim Moya
Date: Nov 28 2000 14:16:52
Chris Hastie <>wrote

We have to get fuel from somewhere, and sun, wind and wave ain't gonna
replace all that oil on their own. Burning wood chip at least has the
advantage that taken over the lifetime of a tree, it has zero net
greenhouse gas output. All the CO2 released in burning has previously
been absorbed by the tree. Indeed, burning woodchip is a slightly round
about version of solar power really! (OK, so so is burning oil and coal,
but then you have to look at it over millennia)

While we have to get fuel from somewhere, do we have to get so much fuel?

The problem is Chris that carbon locked up in coal, oil and trees is fast
being released into the atmosphere as CO2 while a lesser amount is being
absorbed by vegetation.  This position is not sustainable even in the medium
term. Fossil fuel deposits are not being replaced (as far as I am aware) at
present as they require major geological changes to form and tree
populations (except where sustainably produced) are also diminishing.  The
net result being a large increase on CO2 with consequences which we all know

Its worth remembering that the atmosphere consists mainly of:

Nitrogen 78%
Oxygen 21%
Argon 0.9%
Carbon dioxide 0.035%

So it doesn't take much of an increase in total atmospheric CO2 to
significantly increase the percentage.

Until we as arboriculturists have ensured that the tree populations which we
manage are being sustained it is probably better that we should be sending
arisings for composting (rather than burning) where we can.  If we can be
sure that the amount of carbon locked up in our amenity trees remains stable
(or increases) then burning for energy/heat production seems to me fine.
However we should also take into account CO2 emissions resulting from tree
works and transport when making this calculation.

I suppose its a question of whether we think sustaining energy production is
more important than reducing CO2 emissions or the other way round.


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