[Terrapreta] Carbon emissions show sharp rise

Sean K. Barry sean.barry at juno.com
Sun Jan 6 22:55:58 CST 2008

Hi Frank,

You are absolutely right.  Depleting biological reservoirs of carbon, like standing forests and/or other perennial growing biomass could create problems, like biodiversity decline, and such.  I suggest strongly that biological reserves are not utilized for the production of charcoal.  It is important not to remove all the forestland to make charcoal to put into soil.  I think charcoal should be made from biomass which grows annually and would otherwise die and decay annually.  Agricultural residues are the preferred biomass feedstock, I think.  The site for charcoal deposits is the land that those agricultural residues came from.  We need to recycle available "renewable" (every year) biomass into charcoal into soil, rahter than let it decay into CO2 emissions as it does now.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: dyarrow at nycap.rr.com<mailto:dyarrow at nycap.rr.com> 
  To: Frank Teuton<mailto:fteuton at videotron.ca> 
  Cc: terrapreta at bioenergylists.org<mailto:terrapreta at bioenergylists.org> 
  Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 3:31 AM
  Subject: Re: [Terrapreta] Carbon emissions show sharp rise

  thanks, frank, for highlighting the illogic of treating the pinnacle 
  of biodiversity, and one of earth's primary carbon fixing pathways -- 
  forests -- as little more than fuelwood for charcoal.  not that we 
  need worry.  seems nature is rapidly finishing what man's folly has 
  begun.  catastrophic increases in forest fires may emit as much carbon 
  as our new coal-burning power plants.

  sunday night, CBS 60 minutes -- for a second time -- aired a story on 
  the extra-ordinary outburst of extreme forest fires in recent years:
  The Age Of Mega-Fires
  Expert: Warming Climate Fueling Mega-Fires

  "This past fall, wildfires ripped through Southern California, burning 
  more than 500,000 acres of trees, destroying over 2,000 homes, and 
  claiming nine lives. Scientists now say we should brace ourselves for 
  more and more of these fires in the coming years, because there's been 
  an enormous change in Western fires. In truth, we've never seen 
  anything like them in recorded history.  It appears we're living in a 
  new age of mega-fires -- forest infernos ten times bigger than the 
  fires we're used to seeing."

  10 years ago, a 100,000 acre fire was unusual; now it's ordinary for 
  two 100,000 acre burns simultaneously.  recent fire seasons have seen 
  several fires scorching 500,000 acres.  last year, one burned 
  600,000.  the federal expenditure for fire control has jumped 7-fold 
  in 20 years, and shows every indication of increasing further.  at the 
  moment, fire danger in southern california is high, although the 
  southeast states are getting rain to relieve what almost became a 
  record setting historic drought.

  not only has the scale of these fires greatly increased, so has the 
  intensity.  brush fires are no longer ordinary.  now these are crown 
  fires, rushing upwards as 100 to 350 foot columns of flame, consuming 
  entire trees.  this is killing entire forests, leaving behind a 
  treeless terrain that will take decades -- perhaps over a century to 
  recover.  says one forest expert: "in the Southwest alone, nearly two 
  million acres of forest are gone and won't come back for centuries."

  this isn't happening only in america.  other areas of the globe are 
  experiencing unprecedented drought, dry spells and forest fires.  this 
  is releasing huge amounts of carbon into the air.  but worse still, 
  this is degrading one of the planet's primary means to fix carbon from 
  the air and store it as carbohydrate in living biomass.  the earth's 
  capacity to remove carbon from the air is going up in smoke.

  if this keeps up, in another decade or two, we may consider any forest 
  too precious to be cut for any reason.

  to end the 60 minutes piece: ""You know, there are a lot of people who 
  don't believe in climate change," Pelley remarks. 

  "You won't find them on the fire line in the American West anymore," 
  Tom Boatner says. "Cause we've had climate change beat into us over 
  the last ten or fifteen years. We know what we’re seeing, and we're 
  dealing with a period of climate, in terms of temperature and humidity 
  and drought, that's different than anything people have seen in our 

  for a green and peaceful planet,
  david yarrow

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Frank Teuton <fteuton at videotron.ca<mailto:fteuton at videotron.ca>>
  Date: Sunday, December 30, 2007 1:04 am
  Subject: Re: [Terrapreta] Carbon emissions show sharp rise
  To: "Sean K. Barry" <sean.barry at juno.com<mailto:sean.barry at juno.com>>, Richard.Black-
  INTERNET at bbc.co.uk<mailto:INTERNET at bbc.co.uk>
  Cc: terrapreta <terrapreta at bioenergylists.org<mailto:terrapreta at bioenergylists.org>>

  > Sean et al;
  > I fail to grasp the reasoning behind the idea that emptying 
  > biologically active carbon reservoirs (soil OM, trees, prairies, 
  > etc.) is somehow fundamentally different than emptying 
  > biologically inert (relatively speaking) reservoirs, coal, oil, 
  > gas, peat, etc.
  > The simple truth is, we can only manage atmospheric CO2 levels by 
  > learning to manage all the possible reservoirs of carbon, 
  > including biological reservoirs as well as inert reservoirs. 
  > Pumping relatively inert carbon underground is one way, which 
  > includes terra preta approaches...aiming to increase SOM and 
  > standing biomass via perennial plant strategies, including forest 
  > and prairie approaches, is another....stimulating phytoplankton in 
  > the ocean is of course still another.
  > In the meantime, it is simple arithmetic that depleting existing 
  > biological reservoirs further is part of the problem, not part of 
  > the solution. Increased deforestation for, say, charcoal 
  > production where the charcoal is then subsequently burned for fuel 
  > empties the forest bioreservoir of carbon, which is not a good 
  > thing. We will need to optimize all reservoirs of carbon to make 
  > this thing work.
  > It is my understanding that up until about 1950 the majority of 
  > the increase in atmospheric carbon was due to human land use 
  > impacts, eg, deforestation, tillage, desertification, and similar 
  > phenomena. Not until about 1950 did fossil fuel burning exceed 
  > biome degradation as the leading anthropogenic cause of 
  > atmospheric CO2 increase. If the argument is that we need to put 
  > back the C, I would suggest we need to put it back not only into 
  > inert carbon forms in the ground, but also back into the living 
  > biological systems from whence a great deal of it was also taken.
  > It isn't one or the other, but what combinations of both can be 
  > made to work.
  > My two cents, 
  > Frank Teuton

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