I have been motivated to write relating to Charles Everett's attempt at justification of the use of wood fires. In essence, his argument is that other forms of energy we use to heat our homes also produce pollution in the building phase. Charles, you are exactly right in stating this, however reality cannot support just about every other claim that you made in your letter ...
Wood is a replaceable item, coal is not replaceable. Wood for burning is only replaceable if someone bothers to replace it. My neighbour supplies burning wood. He never plants trees to replace those he cuts down. Timber industries do, but they are not supplying wood for burning, but rather timber for construction.
Coal is absolutely replaceable - by solar, wind, gas, nuclear, tidal, geothermal. The problem is that many of the people we vote in to represent us are not motivated to do that replacement.
Electricity generated in enough capacity needs coal. Not true. Coal is not needed. It is just the choice our political leaders. It would be interesting to compare the pollution produced by a coal-fired power station and associated infrastructure that supplies electricity to 100,000 homes, with those same 100,000 homes all burning trees. Have you seen photos of towns in a constant smog back before 'distributable' electricity was available for heating? Not a pleasant environment.
I've seen many wind farms with farm animals happily grazing underneath. I guess until pigs fly this will be a viable use of the land.
We do not have replaceable energy systems capable of generating enough power to cover usage 24 hours a day. We do. The sun goes down, but wind doesn't stop just because of night time. Geothermal is 24/7. Batteries (even in the form of dams) can work 24/7. Again, it is a matter of the decisions we make and being a little bit clever.
To replace coal and gas will require huge amounts of energy to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels and batteries.Yes, and we can power that manufacturing using wind turbines, solar panels, hydro, etc. No one is saying it has to happen overnight, and think of the jobs being created.
To create wind farms we can lose hectares of food-producing land, with the construction of roads requiring energy and pollution. Do we? I've seen many wind farms with farm animals happily grazing underneath. I guess until pigs fly this will be a viable use of the land. If you mean access roads, their footprint is minimal.
Solar farms mean losing food-producing land and hundreds of hectares of glass reflecting heat back into the atmosphere. Research been carried out as to what effect that has on global warming. I'm not sure if you are saying I need to research what effect that has, or that there has been research. Anyway, your logic is flawed. Given that all solar energy comes from the sun and goes through our atmosphere and has been happily doing so for four billion years, then it seems a pretty stable system by any measure. The role of a solar panel is to capture the energy, not reflect it back. Given this, it is fair to say that what is reflected back into the atmosphere is a lot less than would be reflected back off a colorbond roof for example, or a dam, or an ocean.
We do lose food producing land if that is what the land was being used for prior to the solar farm being built. Where is it written that it has to be agricultural land? Maybe we could be clever and put solar farms in, say, the Simpson Desert (or add your favourite arid area here). Your argument is invalid because no one is advocating the resumption of useful agricultural land.
You have water run-off from the panels requiring drainage. Do you seal under the panels or just leave bare earth? You do what is required, if anything. Remember that just because a water drop hits a solar panel, that water drop does not magically multiply. The amount of rain and possible run off does not increase at all, not by one drop. I think the evidence we have of climate change and reduced precipitation means that any reasonable person would prefer the problem of dealing with a little run off, rather than never getting rain and avoiding the problem in that way.
Can you imagine heating a house in Orange in winter with solar panels? Yes, wood has to be carted and creates fumes, but in comparison wood comes out in front. I can imagine it, and many of us not only imagine it - we are doing it right now. We have the evidence that it can be done and live it. Sure, it is anecdotal, but as there are thousands of us around Orange, that anecdotal evidence could become quantitative with a little effort. Where is your evidence in order to claim that 'wood comes out in front'? Just one reputable citation would be a start.
Please Charles, your letter only highlights the misinformation, misinterpretation and misguided attempt to justify archaic practises. After that you could join the debate with a view to help better design our planets future, rather than peddling such a pathetic attempt to rationalise outdated choices and technologies.
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