Canada absorbs more carbon than it emits, says Rambling Man

Times editor uses Highway 5 roundabout in his reply

Drawing shows layout of Clearwater's roundabout on Highway 5 before it was built.

Drawing shows layout of Clearwater's roundabout on Highway 5 before it was built.

Editor’s Note: The following letter to the editor was printed in our March 16, 2017 issue. My reply was in our March 23 issue and appears below.

Editor, The Times:

The last several editorials written by our editor seem to fit quite nicely into Donald Trump’s category of “fake news!”

Keith’s statement, “Here in B.C. we have a carbon tax that presently is set at $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide.  It has reduced the amount of fossil fuels being burnt in this province by about 17 per cent.” What a pack of crap! Any reduction might be from Lower Mainland drivers going to the USA for fuel and truckers fuelling up in the USA or Alberta instead of B.C.

Oh yes, and then there is the electric car! That sure will save the world! The only trouble is, if your hydro bill was anything like mine last month, who can afford that?  To make matters worse, hydro costs are also going up by 4.9 per cent this year.

It was just announced in January that B.C. has the highest price for fuel in North America. That really has made the bicycle group happy. The only problem is they are paying the carbon tax on their bananas and tofu at the store.

Keith also mentioned that three prominent Republicans are putting forth a proposal for a carbon tax for the USA. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what that’s all about! They looked at the millions of dollars that Al Gore has made and is still making with all his climate change “fake news,” and they realized there’s room for them on his bandwagon!

I notice that once again our editor mentioned James Hansen, only now Keith says, “Dr. James Hansen, in some ways the dean of climate scientists.” That might be all right in Keith’s mind and maybe in James Hansen’s, but to me Hansen is just another author trying to sell a book.

Recently, there was a great article in the Edmonton Sun regarding carbon emissions. Part of it read, “According to Canadian sources, Canada has 990 million acres of forest, 370 million acres of wetlands, and 167 million acres of crop-yielding farmland. These are known as “carbon sinks.” That is, they absorb carbon.

Biologists tell us that trees absorb about 2.6 tonnes of carbon per acre. So if you do the math, 990 million acres x 2.6 tonnes/acre = 2.574 billion tonnes of carbon being absorbed every year here in Canada.

Now if you do more math: 36 trillion tonnes (the amount of world emissions x 0.0167 (1.67 per cent) = 601.2 million tonnes – this is the amount of carbon that Canada contributes to world emissions – in the forests alone, Canada absorbs almost four times the amount of carbon it emits.

This means that the other 3/4 of our forests are being sustained by carbon being emitted by the rest of the world. This calculation does not take into account the wetland or farmland that also absorbs carbon.

Canada really couldn’t get any greener, so why are our politicians hell bent on punishing us with these ridiculous carbon taxes?

If the media were honest, this information would be made public. Should be made public!

Considering the fact Canada is given no credit for absorbing much more carbon than it emits, I think there is a good case for some lawyer to charge governments with a class action lawsuit. This government money grab has to stop!

There is a provincial election looming and this whole topic should be discussed. Disgust!

Jim Lamberton

The Rambling Man

Blackpool, B.C.


Trees do fall in the forest

Keith McNeill

One of our more popular letter-writers over the past few years has been the Rambling Man, Jim Lamberton.

Agree with him or not, he always writes letters that present a point of view with a twist of humour – and sometimes with just a twist.

After taking a break for more than a year, Lamberton started writing again early in 2017.

His first couple of letters since coming back have pretty innocuous but past experience has shown that there are two subjects that really set him off: climate change and the roundabout.

Recently your editor has written several editorials about climate change and, sure enough, last week Lamberton replied with a letter titled, “Canada absorbs more carbon than it emits.”

In it, the Rambling Man described those editorials as seeming to fit nicely into Donald Trump’s category of “fake news.”

The Rambling Man’s principal argument was that Canada’s forests, wetlands and farmlands act as “carbon sinks,” absorbing more carbon dioxide than they release.

Quoting from an article in the Edmonton Sun, he says that Canada has 990 million acres of forest. Trees absorb about 2.6 tonnes of carbon per acre, which results in 2.574 billion tonnes of carbon being absorbed every year in this country – about three times more than we emit.

I don’t know if the numbers are correct but I will concede that trees, when they are growing, absorb a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide. That, plus water from the ground and a few minerals, is what trees are made of, after all (and that’s a bit of a miracle that we take for granted, come to think of it).

In earlier years, Jim Lamberton was a logger (and quite a good faller, from what I’ve been told). He has retained his interest in the outdoors through hunting and fishing.

Many people believe that spending time in the outdoors heightens one’s sense of awareness.

No doubt, therefore, the Rambling Man is aware that trees do not live forever.

They die, from disease, fire, insects, logging or just old age.

Jim, what do you suppose happens to all that carbon that has been converted from gaseous carbon dioxide into solid wood (cellulose)?

Whether the wood rots, burns or whatever, it all eventually ends up as carbon dioxide again.

It’s called the carbon cycle.

It’s kind of like the roundabout.

Every day during the summer, hundreds if not thousands of vehicle enter the roundabout.

Does that mean that somewhere hidden in the roundabout there is a huge parking lot containing many thousands of vehicles? No.

That’s because, just as fast as vehicles enter Clearwater’s favourite traffic circle, they leave it.

Same thing with Canada’s forests.

Yes, young trees take in carbon dioxide as they grow. Dead and dying trees release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

So long as the amount of Canada’s forest remains about the same, then the carbon dioxide budget is more or less balanced.

To suggest otherwise fits my definition of “fake news.”