Oregon Opinion: Climate Change Strategy Needs Forest Biomass

Citizens and policymakers should be wary whenever science is pointedly but selectively invoked to support a political agenda. A recent example is John Talberth’s Nov. 3 guest opinion opposing the “carbon neutrality” of forest biomass energy. His commentary neither clarifies the realities of forest biomass in Oregon nor does it consider the benefits of using […]

Citizens and policymakers should be wary whenever science is pointedly but selectively invoked to support a political agenda. A recent example is John Talberth’s Nov. 3 guest opinion opposing the “carbon neutrality” of forest biomass energy. His commentary neither clarifies the realities of forest biomass in Oregon nor does it consider the benefits of using forest biomass energy as part of a comprehensive strategy to address both climate change and the health of Oregon’s fire-prone forests.

There is great irony reflected in the photo that accompanied Talberth’s commentary, a scene from a lumber mill in Prairie City — the same area where a 2015 wildfire burned 110,000 acres and destroyed 43 homes. Much of the forest that burned was federal land choked with unnatural levels of forest biomass, including dead and dying trees stressed by both high stand densities and recent climate trends that are expected only to get worse.

Yet oddly, despite all the concern expressed about carbon and climate change, neither the word “wildfire” nor the phrase “forest health” appears in Talberth’s commentary. Severe wildfires and expanses of decaying dead trees have become a significant source of carbon emissions in the west, not to mention their growing impacts to ecosystem, watershed and community health and safety.

Instead of acknowledging these stark realities, Talberth raises the ominous specter of a “biomass industry” and “industrial forest landscapes,” which suggests a greater concern about commercial benefits from forest biomass rather than a primary interest in more effective strategies to address real carbon and climate issues in Oregon and beyond.

From OregonLive.com: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/12/climate_change_strategy_needs.html

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