Letters: Langley wood smoke miniscule compared to forest fires

Dear Editor,

Why all the handwringing over periodic wood smoke?   

It doesn’t impress me quoting the World Health Organization’s righteous opinions that air pollution is a carcinogen.

Now the United Nations wants to call carbon dioxide (CO2) a pollutant. Since the beginning of man, our lungs have contained CO2, as that’s what we breathe out. So why are we living so much longer?

Since campgrounds have no trouble attracting families/kids who love campfires and pay big bucks for firewood, surely we should be able to tolerate a few whiffs of occasional bio-smoke from our rural neighbours without resentment.

Historically, the essence of lifestyle in Langley has been its rural nature. It’s important to separate and maintain that lifestyle from the increasing urbanized areas by not encumbering the rural folk on acreage with city-type restrictive laws.

There are many reasons to continue to allow rural burning.

Outdoor rural burning, twice a year for one month, is important for tree care and safety. Trees are nice, but are a lot of work and expense to take care of (which should be encouraged) with constant pruning and cleanup of blown down branches.

We can cut big branches up for firewood, then stock-pile the rest until burning months, otherwise they would get neglected, with dangerous trees and messy stockpiles of combustibles accumulating.

The amount of smoke from Langley is minuscule, compared to the smallest of the two to three hundred forest fires that occur annually in BC.  

Burning wood (biomass) is considered to be more climate-friendly than burning fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal which add net CO2.

Forests that are cut down can be replanted (renewable). When a tree falls and decays, is burned in a forest fire (or woodstove), it releases back into the atmosphere the CO2 it absorbed during its growth cycle (carbon neutral).

Modern woodstoves or pellet-stoves are combustion efficient, most with catalytic combusters. Burn responsibly, don’t burn plastics.

It costs more to live in rural Langley. We are on private wells, and one of our greatest fears is losing grid power in freezing temperatures, as water pipes can freeze. Power outages are more frequent and last longer in rural areas. Reliance on one source of energy is vulnerable: wood stoves with a stockpile of wood and emergency generators are important to us.

During the January 1998 Great Ice Storm affecting Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, New York, and Maine hundreds of thousands were out of power for weeks, and in some cases, months in freezing temperatures. Many died of hypothermia, but people with wood stoves survived the best and were able to help others.

The demand for wood stoves far exceeded the supply, as they were shipped there from all over North America.  

We compost/recycle as much as possible, and in winter, when using the wood stove, by burning the paper component of packaging, we reduce our street-side garbage by two thirds.

Wood heating conserves other hydrocarbon fuels and reduces the BC Hydro electric grid load.

When operative, our wood stove heats our house and much domestic hot water.

I have enjoyed a lifetime – 70 years experience – in wood heat, and respect it.

Natural Resources Canada puts out a booklet, A Guide to Residential Wood Heating. More than 200,000 B.C. households use wood for heating.

The climate alarmists’ agenda appears to price and carbon-tax us out of any remaining affordable activities of life.

Roland Seguin, Fernridge

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