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Alejandro Lazo's article ("California Wildfire Smoke and the Climate Crisis: Four Things to Know," Sept. 7), sums up a nightmare scenario for civilization: "Fires worsen climate change, and climate change worsens fires." Wildfires emit massive CO2, and all CO2 traps heat. Most foresters believe that thinning forests would reduce fuel loads in the forest and reduce the scope and intensity of wildfires. The scale of work required is daunting, but we seem to have little choice.

Massive fuel load reductions would produce millions of tons of dead wood, and how to dispose of this biomass is another problem. The most common method is incineration at a biomass plant, but this is hardly a solution to our emissions problem. One look at Humboldt Sawmill's biomass plant in Scotia tells us that much. The plant burns only its own sawmill waste, yet it emits as much CO2 as 70 percent of all of Humboldt's cars and trucks, and it also emits illegal amounts of air pollution that have led to numerous violations of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water regulations. All of that generates just 21 megawatts of electricity.

The supply of biomass in years to come will dwarf the piles of sawmill waste in Scotia. We must utilize it in ways that won't overwhelm the atmosphere with greenhouse gases or poison our air with particulates and toxic pollutants. Some of the alternatives, such as making oriented strand board and veneers, have been around for a long time. They have environmental impacts, of course, but they sequester carbon. Making hydrogen and bioplastics are two emerging technologies with a lot of promise. Perhaps the best solution would be treating our range lands with composted biomass. That has a net carbon negative outcome. There are no silver bullets, but better practices for biomass utilization is a huge priority for the climate.

Martha Walden, Westhaven

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