To discern clean energy from polluting ones, we need to distinguish three types of carbon.
- ancient carbon in fossilised plants and animals stored deep within the earth millions of years ago.
- carbon in the atmosphere, combined with other gases, CO2 being one combination.
- carbon stored in plants and organic matter, such as tree trunks, even our own bones, in soil, and in sea creatures.
The carbon stored in wood, and other organic matter, belongs to the cycling and recycling of carbon that goes back to the atmosphere and the total mass of matter above ground. Burning wood logs is comparable to us eating food, and exhaling CO2 when we breathe out. Nature had struck a balance to maintain all the elements in life-supporting ways. We have destroyed this balance by our greedy extractions of earth resources.
In this context burning wood is clean energy because the carbon it releases goes back to the natural recycling of the earth matter. Indeed it is one of the cleanest sources of energy as well as sunlight and wind. The problem comes into the picture when we extract more than our share, and set out to destroy forests for our greed. But if you are someone who has enabled more than two million trees being planted (Alan, through the charity he founded, Trees for Life), burning a tree or two a year, from a sustainably managed woodland, to heat your home will not deficit our planet.
Coming to think of it, if we each had a part to restore a part of our eco-systems, we could all be living on clean energy, physically and metaphysically.
Sources : 350.org
Trees for Life