Friday, October 22, 2010

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

The local Fox affiliate in Portland brings us this lovely pictorial of Area Man who strives to be the most tatooed person in the world. Having run out of skin surfaces he recently had the whites of his eyes tatooed as well. It really is difficult, yet fascinating, trying to imagine what is going on in this man's mind.
If you enjoy the truly creepy, check out the following link:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More on Carbon Sequestration

Brother Dave followed up on comments regarding carbon sequestration in forests in my previous post with the following erudite comments:


Per your request I looked at your latest posting. I have always been
of the view (without data of course) that a mature forest (read "old
growth") is probably not sequestering much or any carbon on an
incremental basis. Admittedly there is a huge amount of carbon locked
up in those big trees, but that is not really the policy issue. The
analysis should always be at the margin. How much annual incremental
carbon is sequestered (through tree growth) or released (through tree
death or harvest and resulting decomposition) is the question the
analysis should be focused on. I think the greenies tend to confuse
the debate by focusing on a static analysis rather than a dynamic one.

It sounds like the site you were visiting had slow growth rates
resulting from 100 year old logging practices and resulting site index
damage. OK, not much incremental sequestration and if there are some
really old trees around which are falling down it could be negative.
As an alternative think back to the trip we took to Mt. St. Helens a
few years back. Remember the Weyco noble fir forest that had been
planted up there. Those trees looked like they were growing so fast
that you could hear them grow if you were quiet enough at night. The
incremental carbon sequestration on that site had to be quite large
compared to the site you were looking at and even bigger than the
adjoining federal lands where no replacement timber had been planted.

This tends to lead to an argument that we should liquidate old growth
and plant new trees which we pick for rapid growth and then apply a
variety of growth generating silvicultural practices. Makes sense in
the abstract, but I am not sure it is quite that simple. First you
have to consider what happens to the old growth forest you liquidate.
About the best you can do with that is convert it to building products
and put it into structures which will defer the carbon release for
another 100 years or so. As to the slash and residuals fro the
manufacturing process the preferred prescription seems to be to use it
for energy generation. Those of us in my industry and the biofuels
industry like to argue that any carbon released in that process is
irrelevant because of the replacement sequestration occurring in the
tree farm. Fair enough, so long as you don't count the tree farm
twice that way, once for the benefit of the guy who owns it and once
for benefit of the guy who is burning the slash and residuals.

A better solution is to maximize the recovery from the log/tree into
building materials and other useful products which do not release the
carbon for an extended period. Is there a process to turn slash into
a solid object such as a plastic? If so how much energy does that
process consume. This gets really complicated. Another question that
occurs to me is the rate at which growing trees sequester carbon. I
can just about guarantee that if you plotted annual sequestration
versus tree age, it would not be a straight line. It would start out
very low (because the tree is very small) and end very low (because
the tree is not growing). Again, however, no data. However, all this
means is that the replacement of old growth with a new tree farm does
not give you a year one payback. It will take time before the
incremental sequestration of the tree farm catches up and "covers" the
carbon released as a result of the harvest. All nice in theory but
pretty much worthless speculation without real data. This is the kind
of question where the assumptions swallow the answer and site
differences will yield significant variances in outcome.

Oh well. Way to complicated for this mere finance lawyer. I have to
go and prepare to teach a class to a bunch of third year law students
on deal making.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Wind River Canopy Crane

Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to visit the Wind River Forest Experiment station and ascend into the canopy of an old growth douglas fir forest in the gondola of a large (250') construction crane. The crane which has been in use for 12 years is used by scientists from UW and the Forest Service to conduct research into the ecosystem of the old growth forest. The views were awsome and I was able to restrain my urge to flee long enough to be strapped into the gondola for the ride. The following video is narrated by one of the scientists as we ascend alongside a 700 year old douglas fir.


I have long suspected that the contribution of forests by way of carbon sequestration to the slowing or elimination of global warming is to a great extent wishful thinking. I believe this because a great deal of the biomass (including, leaves, stems, branches, dead trees etc.) release their CO2 back into the atmosphere as a result of metabolic respiration (decomposition). Consequently the net carbon sequestration is demonstrably less than the gross amount. In conversation with the lead scientist on site I learned that this is a major area of study for the project. They are actually measuring (atomospheric sampling and isotopic analysis) the quantity of CO2 that is absorbed on site and the quantity released. This conversation took place in a 100 year old stand of douglas-fir. The site had been logged by steam donkey in 1910 and badly damaged in the process. Heavy soil compaction and destruction of the understory has resulted in a slow growing stand of undersized trees of very low productivity. When asked about carbon sequestration in this site Ken (lead scientist) replied that this forest unit was a net producer of CO2. This study is currently in pre-publication stage and is being submitted to Science magazine. I look forward to reading it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Guess what Steve's new hobby is!

My pal Steve just landed this 1983 Cadillac Deville "Rennaisance" This beauty was an aftermarket production by Wisco of Roseville MI. Both Wisco and R. S. Harper, firms which were best known for building "pimp cars," produced limited editions for those requiring that extra image bump that only a truly pimped out caddy can provide. Their customized features made ordinary Cadillacs "distinctively different" and "elegantly impressive". Wisco Cadillac Coup deVille came with custom, padded landau top, opera windows, door saddle trim, non-functional landau bars, chrome roof arch and chrome belt molding, limousine rear window, custom deck wheel and lower deck trim, and the most awsome "Rolls Royce" style grill work ever.

This baby has only 54,000 miles and runs great. I confess I didn't actually drive it on the road for fear of being pulled over for contributing to the delinquency of myself.
Every red-blooded American male should want one of these!