Despite the value of trees to human and planetary health, an increasing number of American companies are cutting down forests to convert trees into pellets for electricity. It is tragically ironic that trees are being destroyed in the name of renewable energy. It is often said that trees are the Earth’s lungs, they sequester carbon, produce oxygen, prevent erosion and are one of nature’s most aesthetic creations. While coal is widely understood to be environmentally destructive, many do not understand that burning wood for electricity is even more harmful.
According to a Dogwood Alliance article, “burning trees for electricity will actually result in increased carbon emissions, when compared to coal.” While it is good that European utilities are transitioning away from coal, it is a travesty that they are adopting wood based biomass as a replacement.
Four new mills in the US are now logging forests to turn trees into pellets to meet this burgeoning European demand. These companies may have green sounding names like “Enviva” and “Enova Energy,” however, wood based biomass for electricity is anything but green energy. This is the kind of greenwash that confuses the public and undermines efforts to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
Even the European Environmental Protection Agency’s own Scientific Committee have warned that burning trees could actually accelerate climate change.
Forests reduce atmospheric CO2, protect drinking water, and provide habitat for countless species of plants and animals. Additionally well managed forests provide tremendous economic benefits. The fact that wood biomass is being touted as green energy adds insult to injury.
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