March 14, 2021

Wood Is Simple







Not everyone consumes as much energy, or in the same ways as we do in overdeveloped nations.

It is tempting to think that most everyone has access to electricity, enabling them to use their electric stove in the kitchen, and electric heater in the living room. 

That would be wrong. 

In many parts of the world wood is the most common energy source available to the people.

3 billion people across the globe rely on biomass, in the form of wood, and also charcoal, dung, and crop residue.

1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, an alarming statistic to someone that has lived with near-constant electrical power since birth. 

It seems so... power privileged. However, that privilege can be revoked at any time. In that case, wood would be good.

In the recent grid crash in Texas, people who had wood heat in their homes faired better than those who were left with nothing for cooking and heating as soon as the power went out.

There is something to be learned there. 

My take away is to some day have a home system in which we are not reliant on electricity to do everything. 

A good old fashioned wood stove would be welcome in that case.

A nice-sized wood lot in the back yard is also on my wish list.


Grids are complex. Wood is simple.




11 comments:

  1. Wood is simple but if everyone heated with wood we would (pardon the pun) have many more problems with pollution. When professional foresters stopped heating with wood stoves , even they realized it was not as economic as it seemed. We had horrible inversions where I grew up from the smoke from wood stoves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that is true. Burning wood can have adverse health effects on those in, and around, the home. And if we all used wood our forests would soon be gone. Perhaps it is best used as an emergency source of energy rather than the main source.

      Alternatives can also be harmful. Most of the electricity in my area is produced by burning coal, although wind power is increasing here. The manufacture of wind turbines depends on the burning of fossil fuels, so they aren't carbon-free either.

      The only thing to do is REDUCE our energy use, regardless of the source. Right now our home can be heated in 3 different ways, including wood pellets. But all these methods require electricity. When the power goes out, we have nothing for heat... except two minus 20 sleeping bags. We have a small single burner camp stove for cooking in an emergency.

      Like everything else humans do, there are no easy answers. Depending on the grid moving forward might also be fraught with difficulties. They are giving us warnings of impending failures in the future as our creaky infrastructure is tested by Mother Nature.

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    2. If wood is harvested judiciously, we will never run out.

      Delete
    3. But when has humanity ever harvested resources judiciously? We must learn the meaning of the word, and apply it.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous3/15/2021

    Our power went out in the Texas grid crash, and the first night was hell (we had packed almost every blanket and sheet for moving). Second night, we stayed with a neighbor who had a fireplace. I see how valuable that resource is, especially in places that get cold more often than once in my lifetime. Took until 3 years ago for me to see snow for the first time.

    I have a 10° sleeping bag, and slept with my pet lizards in it, as the house got down into the 30s rather quickly. Unfortunately, the oldest one didn't survive the week. I'm still trying to figure out how I'd keep the surviving two warm in the event that this occurs again. Also have to get more bags for other family members. Thankfully, though, we are on a small grid that includes a major hospital and aren't subject to rolling blackouts at our new place.

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    Replies
    1. So happy that you made it through that (mostly) intact. 30s indoors is really cold. That must have been strange and unusual for your location.

      Losing the electric can be scary, and dangerous, if it goes on for more than a few hours. It makes me think we are too dependent on it.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous3/17/2021

      We definitely are too dependent on it. But with pets and young kids, older people who shiver if it's colder than 65°... Electricity is a lifesaver. I think a lot of it would have been okay with even a small amount of preparation, but our most common issue throughout the year is heatstroke, you know? Nobody has wood burning stoves- heck, a lot of homes don't even have furnaces. Only a month later, and it's in the mid 80s with everyone walking around in shorts and tank tops.

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    3. "...don't even have furnaces."

      As a northerner I have always dreamt of living in a warmer place where a furnace was unnecessary. Good to hear things are back to normal. Crazy weather.

      Record-setting winter warmth has become more common in Nova Scotia over the last 15 years, but it's still not warm enough for shorts and tank tops.

      Preparation is everything, making the difference between an interesting diversion and an all out emergency.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous3/19/2021

      Ha! I've always dreamt about living in a place where air conditioners were unnecessary. The grass is always greener on the other side, I suppose.

      Delete
  3. I remember being a youngster living in northern BC - in the coldest weeks of the winter we would all sleep in the kitchen around the wood cookstove. I still love the smell of a wood fire. Every summer when I go camping I keep one tshirt with that glorious smell out of the laundry until it just seems ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda and I have seen many, many old homes for sale in Nova Scotia that still have their original wood cook stoves. Back to the future!

      Delete

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