Hardwood forests cut down to feed Drax Power plant, Channel 4 Dispatches claims

Huge areas of hardwood forest in the state of Virginia are being chainsawed to create ‘biomass’ energy in Britain as the government attempts to reach targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in efforts to tackle climate change, an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches has found.

A key part of government efforts to hit its green energy targets is to switch from generating electricity from burning coal to burning wood – or so-called biomass. It’s a policy that is costing taxpayers more than £700 million per year through a levy on their electricity bills.

The biomass industry and government argue that because wood is a renewable source of energy and trees can be replanted to reabsorb carbon dioxide this policy is good for the environment.

Antony Barnett, reporter at Dispatches, travelled to the southern states of the USA to investigate the source of wood that is now being turned into millions of tonnes of wood pellets to be burnt in Britain’s largest power station, Drax, in North Yorkshire.

Footage reveals huge areas of hardwood forest in the state of Virginia  being chopped down and removed to a factory owned by US firm Enviva that grinds up logs into pellets. A large proportion of these pellets are then shipped across the Atlantic to be burnt at Drax in the UK – one of Enviva’s main customers.

Britain has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 57 percent by 2030 and getting Drax to switch from burning coal to wood is meant to play an important part in that. Drax now produces up to 17 percent of Britain’s ‘renewable’ electricity, enough to power four million homes.

The power station giant claims that burning pellets instead of coal reduces carbon emissions by more than 80 percent.

However, Dispatches conducted a simple experiment at a laboratory at the University of Nottingham to compare the carbon dioxide emitted when burning wood pellets, similar to those used by Drax, instead of coal.

It found that to burn an amount of wood pellets that would generate the same amount of electricity as coal it would actually produce roughly eight percent more carbon.

Biomass is viewed as ‘carbon neutral’ under European rules. This means Drax is not obliged to officially report the carbon emissions coming out of its chimney stack. Dispatches calculated that if Drax were to report on the full extent of its emissions it would show that last year they amounted to 11.7 million tonnes of CO2.

Drax claims that the replanting of trees means all the C02 will be reabsorbed. But scientists argue that it will take decades for forests to regrow and subsidising biomass from wood pellets is fuelling an industry that’s making climate change worse in the short term.

Professor Bill Moomaw helped lead a team that won a Nobel Peace Prize for its work on climate change at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is one of dozens of scientists who have written to the British government, warning against this policy.

Professor Moomaw said in an interview with Dispatches: “If we take the forests and burn them the carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere instantly, in a few minutes. It takes decades to a century to replace that.

“Britain may be on track to eliminating the use of coal but they are not on track to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. We’re not going to meet our one and a half or two-degree targets that all governments, including the British government, agreed to in Paris.

“Burning more wood makes it absolutely impossible to meet that target. We now know that if we overshoot that the consequences last for 100s to a thousand or more years.  So there’s no off switch, there’s no reverse gear.”

Andy Koss, chief executive of Drax Power, defended the policy of burning wood pellets in an interview with the programme: “I am very comfortable that all the material what we source meets regulatory standards in the UK and meets our very strict sustainability criteria.”

Koss said the site Dispatches had seen being logged was atypical and that the “vast majority” of its wood comes from residue and waste material. He said: “We’ve obviously looked at this as well.  The site was a working forest, it was left unmanaged.  

“The owner of that forest wanted to clear this using standard harvesting techniques to turn it back into a working forest. That forest is being regrown. We know the owner of that particular tract – that will grow and there will be more carbon absorbed.”

Sustainability provisions

On the question of Drax’s claim that by burning wood instead of coal it reduces carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, Koss admitted it didn’t include emissions from its chimneys: “We don’t count that. The government doesn’t count that.

“It doesn’t include stack emissions because if we are sourcing sustainable biomass from working forests, where this is more growth than is being harvested, we see the carbon as being reabsorbed.”

Envier said in a statement to Dispatches that it “works to industry leading, strict sustainability and wood sourcing policies and certifications.”

It added: We will not work with any supplier that does not adhere to our commitment to protecting, nurturing and growing forests. Enviva does not accept wood from old growth or independently designated conservation areas. The small family owned site allegedly being shown in the footage is made up of younger trees = not the alleged 80 to 100 years – and is not a sensitive wetland forest.”

A spokesman for the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy told Channel 4: “Between 1990 and 2016, the UK reduced its emissions by over 40 percent. We have the most stringent biomass sustainability provisions in Europe.

“Environmentally friendly, low carbon bioenergy can help the UK to transition to a more diverse energy mix, increase our energy security, keep costs down for consumers and help us to meet our 2050 carbon targets.”

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Channel 4 Dispatches. Dispatches: The True Cost of Green Energy will be shown at 8pm on Monday 16 April on Channel 4.



Neanderthals used fire to perfect hardwood tools 170,000 years ago

Someone was using fire in the manufacture of digging tools made from difficult wood 170,000 years earlier, in Tuscany.

No hominin bones were discovered at the site, however the archaeologists investigating the amazing natural remains, found at Poggetti Vecchi during construction work and reported in PNAS, believe the mystical maker of the wooden foraging innovation was early Neanderthal.

There is no direct proof of who the manufacturers at Poggetti Vecchi were. The only recognized hominins in Europe at the time were Neanderthals, explains Biancamaria Aranguren, the Manager of Archaeology for Tuscany.

earlier than believed– a minimum of 300,000 years earlier, and may have begun spreading out of Africa some 200,000 years earlier, based upon a modern-day jawbone discovered in Israel. Theoretically the tool-maker of Tuscany might have been sapiens, or even another hominin. But provided other proof of Neanderthal dominion in Europe at the time, naming them is sensible. Prof. Erella Hovers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a worldwide specialist on Neanderthals, stresses that Neanderthals are indeed the only known humans

in Europe 170,00 years ago, based on the evidence of skeletal remains discovered up until now.”The geneticists inform us that there might have been Denisovans in parts of Europe, though no such claim has actually been made for Italy, to the very best of my understanding, “Hovers adds. As for Italy, there aren’t many anthropological remains from the Middle Pleistocene at all, Aranguren acknowledges. 2 skulls dating to 250,000 years ago found in Saccopastore, by the Aniene River in Lazio have actually been recognized as Neanderthal, the earliest understood in Italy– at least by some.(Even there, debate continues to swirl, because the Saccopastore skulls diverge from the”classic Neanderthal “.)Poggetti Vecchi chronologically positions in between the quarter-million-year-old discovery at Saccopastore and the somewhat”peculiar” Neanderthal skeletons of Altamura, which date around 150,000 years earlier, Aranguren informed Haaretz. You could club a barn door with this Wood does not generally survive centuries. Generally, it decomposes, degraded by germs and fungi.

In this case, the fragmented however still identifiable

remains of the prehistoric wooden tools were maintained by the humid paleoenvironmental conditions, Aranguren describes. The wood was discovered focused in a little location, together with(and even under) animal bones, primarily of the extinct straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiques– which

were obviously not butchered using these executes. It has been argued, based on morphological distinctions from us, that Neanderthals were heavy meat-eaters. One of the eight ancient wooden spears discovered in Schöningen, Germany. The spears are believed to be in between 380,000 and 400,000 years old.www.denkmalpflege.niedersachsen.de Whoever made them, exactly what they were making is digging tools, the archaeologists feel rather positive. Not spears, though the carries out could be utilized to club little animals, among other things, they explain. All the sticks found were made from difficult boxwood, and had broken over the years. Still, the archaeologists could inform they had been over a meter in length. The Poggetti Vecchi sticks were rounded at the manage

end, and were pointed at the other, but not sharpened. Though incredibly uncommon, other wood artifacts from the Middle Pleistocene have actually been found, for example at Clacton-on-Sea, Schöningen, and Lehringen– however they were various. They were longer and had been sharpened into real points, asking the theory that these ancient wood tools had been real spears. The Lehringen spears, for one, were found near elephant bones.”The Schöningen spears are around 1.82 to 2.25 meters long, with sizes of around 3 to 5 centimeters,”Aranguren told Haaretz.”They are made from pine or spruce wood, equipped with one or perhaps two sharpened suggestions. The Poggetti Vecchi wood tools are around 100 to 120 cm long with an average diameter of 3 cm. They are made from boxwood and had a blunt point and a rounded manage.” Charring was found on 170,000-year old Neanderthal digging sticks, discovered amongst straight-tusked elephant bones at Poggetti Vecchi, Tuscany.PNAS Simply put, says Aranguren,

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Wood Floor Covering- A Financial Investment For Your House

The time has come to renovate the floors of your home, but what flooring should you choose? You may have considered using hardwood flooring, but at a cost anywhere between $4-18 per square foot, is this really the best option? As a matter of fact, yes! Hardwood flooring is the most cost-effective option you could choose, and it should be considered more of an investment. Not only do houses with hardwood flooring look and feel wonderful, but homes with wood floors hold their value better, sell faster, and fetch higher prices. Think about it, why would a buyer want to go through the effort of finding and installing hardwood flooring when a house already has one? Not only do they look fantastic, but they are also easy to maintain and are great for people with allergies.

Engineered or solid wood?

When it comes to wood flooring you are left with two options, engineered or solid wood. Engineered wood floors are available in planks and are suitable for any room and temperature. The strips are constructed of lamination and a premium hardwood top layer, which can expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. Solid wood products are available in planks, strips, and parquet and are manufactured from a solid piece of wood. Solid wood is not recommended for basements or below-grade rooms. However, engineered hardwood floors can be installed in any room, whether it’s on-grade, above-grade, or below-grade.

Another major difference with engineered hardwood floors is that they have the option to be floating, whereas solid wood floors must be nailed or glued down. Floating hardwood floors are great for houses with radiant heat systems where nailing or gluing down flooring may be prohibited. Floating hardwood floors are either glued together or clicked together, making the whole floor move as one unit. Any shifts in the flooring would be noticeable on the perimeter of the area, however, floorboards are there to cover them. An important thing to note is that engineered hardwood flooring should never be placed in an area where temperatures go above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Better aesthetic value

When it comes to choosing the color of your floor there’s almost an endless array of options. Hardwood flooring is available in several types of woods, with different sanding and staining levels to match your desired look. Wood is neutral, whereas carpet requires you to stick with certain colors. It’s no wonder why interior designers prefer it over carpet. Both interior designers and homeowners find it easier to match furniture with it. Yes, people argue that wood floors are loud and can be cold but adding area rugs can help mitigate these concerns. There’s no doubt that hardwood flooring is amazing.

Health benefits

Indoor air quality is one of our top health threats. Installing wood flooring can contribute to a healthy living environment. Individuals suffering from allergies can enjoy a better living with hardwood floors. Wood flooring doesn’t trap dust or other irritants and can easily be swept or vacuumed. Pesticides from outdoors and mold can also be serious health threats. The hard surface of wood floors helps prevent substances from accumulating on floor coverings whereas carpets do. Another drawback to carpets is that they hold on to odors such as cigarette smoke, pet accidents, and other kitchen scents.

Real estate loves hardwood flooring

Real estate agents claim that houses with hardwood flooring are easier to sell, sell for more money, and sell faster than homes without it. A study from the National Association of Realtors showed that 54% of potential home buyers said that they would be willing to spend a couple thousand dollars more for hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors have a timeless look that’s likely to attract any buyer, whereas people see carpets as a perspective lens. Carpets can be a deal breaker for multiple reasons: wrong color, not plush enough, too shaggy, etc.

In retrospect, yes hardwood floors can be expensive, but consider it an investment in your home. Not only does it look beautiful and bring a higher resale value, it provides a healthier living for the family living there. Looking to install hardwood flooring in your home? For tips, ideas, and inspiration for hardwood flooring be sure to visit Reed Interior’s website at https://reed-interiors.com/. Reed Interiors is a home renovation company in Santa Barbara that has a wide range of flooring options to meet your projects’ needs. In addition to having luxury home decor, their team of established interior designers can help guide you as you build your dream home. If you’re in the Santa Barbara area, be sure to visit their headquarters and browse their selection.