The MA forest covered landscape occupies a predominant portion of the area of the state. What once was 70% cleared for grazing and other agriculture is now nearly completely over grown and the state is now almost 70% forest. The "normal" corporate dependent citizen has come to expect that the forest is just there for them to look at as they buzz by in their fossil powered tank.
In reality the forest is a tremendously important and fragile part of the life support system of this troubled outer layer of the "eaarth"'s shell. As the climate changes untouched forest is completely vulnerable extreme weather events. These extreme situations are coming to dominate the annual climate scape.
Our ability to choose appropriate paths for the use of the production and management of the potential of the rural forest scape comes from understanding the realities of the various alternatives. When the information base is not clearly communicated, the base for decision msking is distorted. We are living in a time of intentional distortion of all information.
One recent source of misinformation that came from the Patrick Administration came in the form of a publicly funded environmental report - the Manomet Report. A recent commentary on that paper can be found at:
Here is a slightly different view of this reality:
While this paper completely vindicates the position of wood being a sustainable fuel with lower than coal carbon dioxide emissions, it hides the "cherry picking" of data that the Manomet report used to arrive at its extremely biased conclusions. Both reports focus on the burning of normal green chips. This report only reports the sane use of the 70% waste heat to predry the chips at the very end of the report.
However, the real issue that none are addressing is the fact that the corporate solution of concentrating production facilities in remote locations or poor neighborhoods is driven by the inappropriate nature of our financial system. Power production is an infrastructure item - a basic life support function - and should be financed in a completely different manner from "normal" short term funding of every day practices. The limiting size of these systems is based on how fast or at what level an outside investor will get paid out. These functions that maintain the quality of all life in an area should be funded from the asset base of the area and the proceeds if any from the use of the facility should go back into the funding base of the locality. This disconnection of locality and fund sources is the basis of the EU problem and will devastate any area that depends on it.
So we need to counter both of these reports with a variety of analyses of different kinds of systems for generating both electricity and local heating and cooling. We need to pay particular attention to local food processing and storage so that when the fuel costs limit the availability of outside food we can still function on our locally produced resources. The corporate dependence, model moves production into distant facilities and uses cheap fuel to move it around and then causes everyone to believe that this is normal. As production of most goods is outsourced, the production of energy in centralized facilities necessitates the disposal of nearly 70% of the input energy as waste heat.
We should see through this smoke screen to the base of facts and explain them to our children so that we break this cycle of brainwashing. Unfortunately, we are now regulated by a group that has been co-opted by the financial "industry" (as if they ever produced anything) and they now dictate the possibilities to the most sustainable part of our local resource base. This must change.
Alan C. Page, PhD, Research Forester