Twenty trees

Via Bill Dawson at Texas Climate News the bottom line is that tree loss due to the drought/heat wave in Texas was in excess of twenty trees per capita. Half a billion trees died, about ten per cent of the total number of trees in the state. If the drought continues into next summer, as is considered likely, tree mortality will be much higher.

It has been drizzling for weeks after months of relentless dry conditions. Consequently I am hopeful that this week’s drought monitor will show Austin in “extreme” drought, which would be something to celebrate, as we have been in the “extraordinary” drought category for quite a few months.


  1. How much energy is in the dead trees? Burning them would be a good idea, replacing perhaps a considerable amount of fossil fuel. An even better idea would be to leave some 20% of the energy behind for some carbon sequestration via char coal.

  2. Almost every inch of Texas is private property, and most of it is near-worthless and near-inacc
    essible. This is what makes Texas Texas: the sheer quantity of it. In practice this makes collective use of the trees unlikely.

    Dead trees in more accessible areas will likely be burned at small scales, not producing energy, or perhaps cooking some cow flesh.

    If the climate returns to normal next year, these trees will rot in place. If we have another heat-drought year as some predict, last year's fires will turn out to have been just an appetizer.

    It is an interesting idea, though.

  3. Inaccesibility is perhaps the only problem.
    (I always thought Texas is flatworld. :-)) That image of Kimble county in your first link looks quite promising (plus could need some soil enhancement) - but I'd need to see more details of the gravel.

    Who wouldn't be happy to sell dead trees that might otherwise just rot or fuel a huge forest fire?

    I don't know the economics of all that, over there in Texas. Last year in Bavaria I found the fossil fool's cost of a ton of char coal produced from wood pellets is -343€/t (incl. VAT). Yes, minus! I.e. even when leaving 25% energy for the char, wood pellets would still have been cheaper for home heating.

    The whole biochar stuff is perhaps too simple and too synergistic to be true. Particularly technocrats find it insulting. (What, wood gas chemistry/physics? That's stone age!)

  4. To the horror of all tree huggerz, Florifulgurator also got plans for Canada:

    1. Generate carbon negative electricity (plus perhaps some wood destillates) from British Columbian bark beetle debris.

    2. In Alberta, instead of tar sands operations, just shred the trees and fast-pyrolize them in mobile refineries (project Bayerwald Standard Holzöle, perhaps drawn by oxen). You need a partly mobile electricity grid. Leave part of it for agricultural development (based on char coal left over from the clear cutting and wood processing).

    Next to carbon sequestration, the albedo problem of boreal forests is solved.

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