[NEWS] If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Should We Use It to Generate Electricity?

– by Meredith Fowlie, September 7, 2016, The Energy Collective

air_curtain_biomass_incinerator_energycollective

Air curtain incinerator (Photo: Energy Collective)

Every summer vacation, we pack our tree-hugging family into the car and head for the Sierra Nevada mountains. In many respects, our trip this summer was just like any other year, complete with family bonding moments and awe-inspiring wilderness experiences:

But our 2016 photo album is not all happiness and light. This year, we saw an unprecedented number of stressed and dying trees. Forest roads were lined with piles of dead wood.

These pictures break a tree hugger’s heart. But they barely scratch the surface of what has been dubbed the worst epidemic of tree mortality in California’s modern history. According to CAL FIRE, over 66 million trees have died since 2010. And it’s not over yet.

The underlying cause is climate change working through drought and bark beetles. Warmer winters and drier summers mean this pesky bark beetle has been reproducing faster and attacking harder. Drought-stressed trees are more vulnerable to fungi and insects. The big-picture impacts are devastating.

Acres of dying trees raise fundamental questions about how to preserve and protect our national parks and forests in the face of climate change. These existential issues were at the heart of President Obama’s speech in Lake Tahoe last week. But the epidemic also raises some more material questions. This week’s blog looks at the heated debate over what to do with millions of dead trees in the forest.

READ MORE at The Energy Collective

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