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3 December 2013
Climate change

A comment at 12.28pm on www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/12/2/green-fairies.html … has the immortal line, '25 years ago Greens were chaining themselves to trees – now they are burning them. You couldn't make it up ….' and the reference of course is to the revamped Drax power station. It has converted from fossil trees (coal) to wood chips (live trees). The origin of the trees is in North Carolina, and no doubt somebody is making a few bob – but these are trees, real live carbon saving trees. In the course of the next few years whole forests will end up in a mincing machine and transported by ship (probably powered by Big Oil) to a port somewhere in the UK and transported by road to the Drax site (using more fossil fuel in the process) all because of a Green dream that can somehow change its spots without a flicker of embarrassment.

Of course, we use wood chips to produce heat and energy elsewhere in this country – and nobody has pointed an accusing finger at them. The National Trust, for example, are opposed to windmills blighting the landscape but they do have Green energy in other forms – including wood chips. However, this is not transported across the Atlantic and neither does it create a carbon footprint. The trees and wood used comes from their own land – very often trees that have become ill (pests) or have been damaged by natural factors (such as storms and winds) and for the sake of thinning trees and creating space between them. Saplings from self sown seeds are notorious for growing in bunches – ash trees are especially prone to this. Hence, when they get to a certain size they are thinned to allow some of the trees to reach maturity in a dignified manner. This kind of small scale use of wood chips is reasonable – but to actually use vast quantities of the stuff in power stations is something only your worse nightmare could imagine. Burning wood causes cancers – so it is alleged. If so, power stations such as Drax and Tilbury could be harming the people for miles around. Yet, somehow there is something wrong with coal – which is fossil wood and vegetation that has been preserved over millions of years.

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