look out! timmberr!

I know that the ETS isn’t out yet with any great detail. However does anyone know if wood is going to be taxed? My guess is they haven’t even thought about it. I looked around and haven’t seen anything about wood burning. And if they haven’t thought about it, people could start buying wood stoves as a second stove in the kitchen and also start heating the house using firewood which will mean chopping down trees and therefore adding to carbon emissions.

Suddenly that old gum or oak tree in the backyard starts to look a little more like a money saver rather than an annoying “pest” if you can get a couple of years out of him/her:-)

I could well imagine the use of a great deal more firewood.

Selling firewood may be become a growth industry for a while until they catch up and even then it could be very difficult to regulate.

let’s watch, shall we?

And yes it is only semi serious.

38 thoughts on “look out! timmberr!

  1. I’ve already been thinking of stealing coal from a nearby mine myself when a big enough black market opens. I’m sure with carbon tax there will be incredible new evasions of Government to see.

  2. Actually, that’s a bigger opportunity than timber. Privately operated coal mines, supplying coal for private heating and perhaps even private generators. Maybe even operating on the basis of dig your own coal if they try to regulate or tax it.

    It would be a bit like the tobacco chop chop market and just as impossible to control.

  3. There is an interesting case before the courts where a NSW farmer is claiming that he owns the carbon in the trees on his land and if the government wants to claim that carbon as part of Australia’s carbon reduction program that he should be compensated. I can’t remember the guys name so can’t link to his web-site (sorry). This is a fun case, but I suspect he’ll lose. If he wins the ETS etc. is a dead duck because the commonwealth would have to compensate the owners of all trees for the ‘nationalisation’ of their carbon content.

  4. what about all the CO2 we exhale? It would add a whole new dimension to the the flippant comment “sooner or later they’ll put a tax on breathing”

    Re the farmer – I imagine he’ll lose. If the government has the power to prevent you from cutting down a tree on your private property, they can probably steal your carbon as well.

  5. Wasn’t it Wran who ‘nationalised’ all the coal years ago in NSW? As soon as you stockpile any substance that has a profit potential, you’ll be penalised!
    And if a landowner is so criminally-minded as to want to release carbon into the air, as well as wanting to murder a tree that never harmed him, then that person is just lucky that he isn’t lynched! He should wait until a tree dies a natural death, and then bury it, and the carbon, in the ground!

  6. What about the fact that when trees/plants die, CO2 and other gases are released via microbial decomposition.
    Are you going to get taxed for rotting wood on your property?

    And athletes should be taxed more than couch potatoes. Athletes breathe faster and are producing more than their fair share of CO2!

  7. Nobody is arguing for a tax on breathing. It is an amusing point but ultimately a straw man argument.

  8. Nobody is arguing for a tax on breathing. It is an amusing point but ultimately a straw man argument.

    If we’re going to look at the ethical basis of governmental carbon management then this is unquestionably a relevant point. If the activities humans conduct for their survival and quality of life are producing carbon at such a rate that centralised management and enforcement is required or our survival and/or quality of life is threatened, then the breathing of 6 billion people needs to be considered. Even if it is justified through a blanket statement that the value of breathing is beyond question, because at the end of the day, it is part of the carbon footprint of each individual.

  9. Some of this problem arises from subsidies and picking winners in the first place – sugar, which is more fattening and doesn’t taste as good as corn syrup is made artificially cheap through subsidies.

  10. Corn syrup is a bloody disaster Mark, being increasingly associated with Type 2 diabetes.

  11. Yeah, same argument can probably be applied to corn syrup. There is a new trend emerging in the desire for calories, it may actually be determined by protein intake, which tends to activate the “stop eating you fat bastard” hormone, leptin. This may explain why the Atkins diet works so well for some people.

  12. You can run cars and tractors on wood gasification. While I cannot vouch for their performance this just goes to show how incredibly viable Industrial-scale wood/rubbish/oil-shale gasification would be. Particularly when coupled-up with nuclear. You can then turn the gas into liquid-diesel or burn it it to run a turbine for electricity-generation. Still try and get such a thing past our nazi environmentalists.

  13. “sugar, which is more fattening and doesn’t taste as good as corn syrup is made artificially cheap through subsidies”

    Sure it’s not the other way around?

  14. Yeah maybe. But you get the point. Subsidies lead to poor decisions, poor economic and ecological outcomes and have flow on effects of further poor economic and ecological outcomes.

  15. “sugar, which is more fattening and doesn’t taste as good as corn syrup is made artificially cheap through subsidies”

    Sure it’s not the other way around?

    Corn is heavily subsidised in the US and Europe. Sugar is significantly protected in Brazil, Central America and Australia. The net effect is much the same – severely distorted markets and the consequences Mark mentioned.

  16. It’s the carbon locked up millions of years ago, not the carbon that got locked up in the last 20 years that is the issue. However if the ETS comes in wood correctly handle will have value as firewood or as a carbon credit. Do you want the money or the heat?

  17. I really don’t understand what it is your saying in 19, Charles.

    Burning wood emits carbon doesn’t it?

  18. But building wood ( growing trees) removes carbon from the atmosphere. If you burn it the net result is zero, (carbon dioxide in, carbon dioxide out). If you chuck it into a lake you have removed carbon from the atmosphere. If you leave it there for a million years you have contributed to the coal reserves.

  19. Charles:

    the objective is the remove carbon from the atmosphere. If we cut down trees it will have the opposite effect, kiddo.

    But building wood ( growing trees) removes carbon from the atmosphere. If you burn it the net result is zero, (carbon dioxide in, carbon dioxide out).
    Oaky Charles, try this thought experiment. Say we cut down every tree in the world, what is the effect on the atmosphere’s carbon content? Would it go up or down?

  20. JC plant a tree, let it grow, cut it down, burn it, what is the net result?

    Answer: Heat, ash and no change in the CO2 level.

  21. JC plant a tree, let it grow, cut it down, burn it, what is the net result?

    A timing difference that you seem not to understand.

    1. Plant a tree and it removes carbon.

    2. Cut it down and it stops acting as a carbon sink.

    3.Burn it and it puts it back in the atmosphere.

    If we applied your argument we shouldn’t worry about coal, right? Seeing coal is basically incubated carbon that has been around all the time.

  22. Furthermore it’s not about the total sum of carbon on earth, Charles. If you had bothered to think about your silly comment you would realize that the real issue we have is not about the levels of carbon: we can’t change the quantity of carbon on earth. It’s where it is that is the most important issue. Stored in a tree is considered harmless. sitting in the atmosphere isn’t.

    I thought you said you were an engineer?

    You got that now?

  23. The “carbon-neutrality” of trees has been pointed out by many, but doesn’t make much sense. It’s true that burning wood is releasing carbon more recently absorbed (so it’s neutral over a shorter period than say, coal), but global warming (if it exists and is caused by CO2) presumably doesn’t care how old the carbon is.

    You could chop down trees and burn wood, or keep the trees and burn coal – the net effect is the same… Actually it’s not the same – if it’s more efficient to harness energy from the latter, then this will actually produce a smaller increase in CO2 per unit of energy produced.

  24. Actually to the extent that wood is commercially grown I think Charles point is far from silly. The process is a carbon sink even before it is a carbon source. Under many scenerios wood is a net positive in terms of mitigating CO2 in the atmosphere. Even better if you grow wood and build things with it (hence locking up carbon for potentially a few generations). Hostility to the forestry industry on environmental grounds is ill conceived in this regard. Firewood is in one sence merely a form of solar energy with carbon merely being a vehicle for energy transport and storage.

  25. Actually to the extent that wood is commercially grown I think Charles point is far from silly.

    that’s because, so often you would rather rip your nose off with pliers than to seen been to agree with me, Terje.

    If you bothered to read the post you would have realized that I was talking about burning wood, not using it to build homes etc. Charles was making this silly point (let Charles say it for himself):

    JC plant a tree, let it grow, cut it down, burn it, what is the net result?

    Answer: Heat, ash and no change in the CO2 level

    my last point settled it:

    we can’t change the quantity of carbon on earth. It’s where it is that is the most important issue. Stored in a tree is considered harmless. sitting in the atmosphere isn’t.

    We weren’t talking about wood used for building.

    Lets not be retarded about this, now Terje simply because you think you have an interesting angle but is really just oppositional.

  26. Sorry JC clearly science is not your strong point, I will try to explain it a little slower. When a tree grows the carbon doesn’t come from the ground, it comes from the atmosphere, CO2 in through the leaves, photosynthesis splits the gas (CO2 means the gas has one oxygen atom and two carbon atoms), the carbon is converted to cellulose by the tree and stays in the tree ( the tree grows), the oxygen is returned to the atmosphere. When you burn the tree, the carbon that was in the atmosphere but is now in the tree as cellulose gets converted back to CO2 and ends back in the atmosphere. In other words.

    Plant a tree, let it grow, burn it, net result heat, ash and no change in CO2. The heat is energy stored, the energy was from the sun and was required to break the carbon oxygen bonds. The ash is from the ground. When you burn word energy is released when the carbon recombines with the oxygen.

    If you can’t see it then I would suggest you follow the link above study and think, if you still can’t see it then it is probable better if you skip trying to debate climate change as it does require a little science to understand what is going on.

  27. Sorry JC clearly science is not your strong point, I will try to explain it a little slower.

    Charles, stop being so pathetic accusing me of not understanding the process when it was your ignorant comment that made no sense in the first place.

    Co2 gets stored/processed in the tree, Charles, so the carbon is not in the atmosphere. In fact co2 is reduced while the tree is growing. Burn the tree and it gets re-introduced in the atmosphere.

    There is never any increases or decrease in carbon, Charles. I mentioned this to you earlier. It’s a timing difference and how it’s stored.

    As I said I’m surprised you’re even claiming you’re engineer.

    you still don’t get it by the sounds of things even though you’ve read Wiki.

  28. Co2 gets stored/rocessed in the tree, Charles, so the carbon is not in the atmosphere. In fact co2 is reduced while the tree is growing. Burn the tree and it gets re-introduced in the atmosphere.

    OK so we have agreement. As I said in the start you have two choices, sell your tree for carbon credits ( because the growing has removed carbon from the atmosphere) or burn it for no net gain in the atmospheres CO2 (as the growing removed it). In other words the article proposition that trees should be tax under a ETS is wrong; wouldn’t you say.

  29. OK so we have agreement.

    No Charles, we don’t have an agreement, which is your way of glossing over your silliness. You need to apologize for wasting time getting to this point and being a mule about it.

    As I said in the start you have two choices, sell your tree for carbon credits ( because the growing has removed carbon from the atmosphere) or burn it for no net gain in the atmospheres CO2 (as the growing removed it).

    Do you not understand what I said and what you claimed we agreed to?

    In other words the article proposition that trees should be tax under a ETS is wrong; wouldn’t you say.

    Who said trees should be taxed, Charles?

  30. If you plant trees to absorb carbon, and then chop them down and burn them, you have a net-zero effect. If you plant trees and then burn coal releasing the same amount of carbon, you also have a zero result.

    This is essentially what you were implying with carbon credits, but you then confused the issue by declaring that tree-burning should be exempt from ETS (when logically, it should be included, though the planting and maintenance should give a credit). The importance of doing it this way, is that burning other fuels (eg, coal), may release more energy per unit of carbon released than burning trees.

    Of course, that’s assuming you buy into the whole thing, which I don’t… but I do like internal consistency.

  31. Yes, but if you plant additional trees, then you make a difference.

    This could be a lower cost alternative to a carbon tax.

    It might even be done through philanthropy.

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