Re: "Metro Vancouver should take action on wood smoke," letter to the editor, Friday, Jan. 4.
Wood burning is not always necessarily a problem.
The keys are the quality and maintenance of a wood burning stove, as well as the selection of wood for burning and proper drying.
No matter what source we use to create heat to comfort our winter life, we should always think about the ecological impact of fuel on the global environment.
All general industrial power sources are relying on fossil fuels either directly or indirectly in construction and the conversion process of power generation.
If all those emissions are counted, good quality wood burning stoves produce less toxic emission and especially less greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
The smoke from wood burning stoves is localized very close to the ground surface and can be smelled more easily by the neighbours, which may sometimes cause discomfort, although some people feel it is acceptable.
However, if the quality of the wood stove is maintained properly, it will emit burning smoke only until fire is stabilized in a few minutes. Before modern technology was developed, our ancestors used wood to burn to maintain comfort of life, and even nowadays it is still used all over the world for cooking and living.
When talking about toxic emissions, wood burning is incomparably more eco-friendly, as all carbon and other components released from burning wood is only recycled from original wood.
When wood or other plants grow, they absorb chemicals such as carbon and nitrogen components as nutrients for them to grow. As they mature, absorption slows down, and they eventually die, break down and release all those components into the ground as nutrients. Thus the best time to harvest burning wood is when they reach maturity or older.
Burning wood simply speeds up the recycling process, and overall cycles are 100 years or less in most cases.
As wood is burned, the emission will be absorbed by newly growing plants and effectively recycle the emission.
It is up to us humans to maintain the balance.
Of course, it will require good selection of wood for burning, proper timing of harvesting wood without damaging the forest, and proper drying and storage, in addition to maintaining your wood stove.
Further, to receive the benefit of wood burning effectively, it is also important to properly extract a high volume of heat from exhaust gas by arranging your chimney to reduce the wasting of energy. Normal, older chimneys are a little questionable in this respect.
In comparison, fossil fuel is taken from the ground or deep sea to remove components tightly blocked underground for more than 500 million years.
New technology simply removes those tightly bound and toxic seals to recover energy at a faster rate.
Combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and many other toxic compounds such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and most dangerously, heavy metals.
Those toxins are released normally in isolated fields and do not affect small neighbourhoods, but they are steadily polluting our global living space.
In contrast to wood burning, the fossil energy is thus called a "non-renewable source."
Kiyoshi Takahashi Coquitlam