Ecologists scoff at Congress for calling biomass “carbon neutral”

Mar 26, 2018, 7:23 AM EDT
(Source: Shahriar Khan/flickr)
(Source: Shahriar Khan/flickr)

The U.S. Congress passed a massive spending bill last week with a provision that nudges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt policies, recognizing wood burning as a carbon-neutral activity and biomass fuels as renewable sources of energy, a notion that has met with scoffs from ecologists.

Many scientists argue that cutting trees is not only antithetical to the role of forests that act as carbon sinks but also hurts regional biodiversity as pellet-producing plantations expand and encroach upon natural flora and fauna, notes Earther.

William Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and former president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, debunks the argument that carbon stored in trees during the course of their growth offsets the carbon released in burning, writes Scientific American.

Schlesinger says the matter of timing is crucial as burning biomass as an instant release of huge amounts of emissions while forests may take much longer to suck the same amount.