Fiddling while the Forests Burn.

It appears from this NYT article that most of the fires in the Amazon basin are actually on land that has already been cleared. They are mostly the equivalent of the now abandoned UK practice of stubble burning, or using fire to clear the land of the previous years residue before re-planting.

NYT image. red is fire, yellow is farmland, green is rain forest.

True, (regarding air pollution in particular) using fire to clear farm land of crop residue to make it ready it for new planting is not good. But it is not the same as catastrophic slash and burn of virgin rain forest. Poor farmers, scraping a living, have little else to fall back on than fire to clear land for the next crop.

Meanwhile the wild fires in the Congo rage. Especially wildfires in virgin rain forest. (See Here) It appears the Glitterati and their fellow travellers find them somewhat less engaging.

Yet if this were some form of pyromaniacal competition then today the Amazon wild fires are an also-ran.

But compared to what has been going on with the Indonesian Peat fires over the last ten years both the latest Amazonian and Congo fires almost pale into insignificance. (I first blogged about them in 2013 Here)

Not heard of the Indonesian Peat fires?

I am unsurprised. In fact I can only remember one UK news report on the Peat fires way back about six years ago when the smoke closed an airport in Malaysia.

The Indonesian peat fires are dying down now. Today they are at about 20% of their peak in 2015.

At their peak (2015) the Indonesian Peat fires were dumping more emissions into the atmosphere (for no practical gain at all) than all sources from the entire European Union. These Peat fires peaked out at 11.9MT of CO2 per day whereas the EU only manages a mere 8.9MT a day.

For a significant period in 2015 the peat fires produced even more Carbon Dioxide that the entire USA economy! Let alone the EU.

So how does this ugly Indonesian record compare with the fires in the Amazon? It looks like the Amazonian fires are producing around about one megaton of Carbon Dioxide a day. (See Here)

In other words the virtually unreported Indonesian Peat fires were (in 2015) an order of magnitude (over 10x) as bad as the hysterically reported Amazonian fires.

Even today with the peat fires down to a mere 20% of their 2015 peak they pump double the Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere compared to the Amazon fires.

Yet the western media along with European leaders are silent about them. I wonder why. Is it the wild fires they don’t like? Or Mr Bolsonaro? Or maybe the EU-Mercosur trade deal?

Of course you may argue that it is not all about emissions. After all burning peat is in essence burning dead matter, burning rain forest is burning living oxygen producing vegetation.

That is true. So lets look at how much rain forest is actually being cleared in the Amazon. Here’s a graph showing annual deforestation in Brazil over the last thirty years.

 True the loss of rain-forest has up-ticked. But it is nowhere near the value in 2004.

So, while the Western elites may think Mr Bolsonaro, (the President of Brazil) is a very bad man, clearly his ability to level the rain forest is positively third division stuff compared to his much loved predecessors.

I suppose some criticism of Brazil would be reasonable if it was not for the rank hypocrisy of the European leaders issuing it. 

In 2017 Germany produced 8.7% of its electricity from biomass or 47.4 TWh.

From this document we can work out that 47.4 TWh from wood requires about 100 million tonnes of green wood which equates to levelling 25 million acres of forest.

Two tonnes of green wood contains about 500Kg of carbon. One tonne of green wood equates when burnt, to approximately one tonne of Carbon Dioxide.

So over a year the Germans are pumping into the atmosphere about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by burning wood for electricity alone. All this while they are decommissioning perfectly fine, safe and carbon free nuclear plant.

So far I’ve not even looked at German biomass burning for heat.

But in Germany biomass is the least of it.

Germany with its fatuous Energiewende fashion statement is in fact addicted to lignite – the dirtiest form of coal. They have destroyed over 50 villages and displaced over 40,000 people just so they can rip out forests and agricultural land to get at the filthy stuff. (See Here)

This is not just a German problem. All over Europe forests are being decimated, people up-rooted and bio-diversity wrecked. Read this report and weep (Here)

So when it comes to slash and burn perhaps sanctimonious Europeans should look in a mirror before vilifying poor farmers in Brazil.

The Brazilians are not the ones decommissioning nuclear plant while burning wood and lignite in its place.

They are not the ones destroying ancient forests and demolishing churches simply to get at the dirtiest fuel known to man.

If the European elites want to help stop the wild fires, maybe gaining a little sympathy for the dirt poor farmers in Brazil would be a good place to start.

As well as putting their own house in order.

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