I had heard of estimates ranging from 50 to 200 years. I suppose it depends on what they are selling.Mike Kirney wrote:...Different scientists have different estimates of the date at which oil will become so scarce its value will skyrocket overnight and never come back down...)
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that biomass is ideal in areas of heavy timber production, or of current tree farming. My fears are based on observations here and in the third world and the behavior of the world market. I spent some time in Southeast Oklahoma back in the early 80's. It is Weyerhauser country. They hold 99 year leases over huge tracts of forest there and in Arkansas. Up until the mid-70's they select harvested valuable hardwoods. With the boom in the world pulp wood market, they decided to clear cut all their lease holdings and convert them to pulp tree farms. There was a lot of resentment among the local population not just for the aesthetic impact but also because tree farming and pulp mills do not require as much labor, and what they do use is largely unskilled....Of the entire mass of the tree (branches, trunk, roots, leaves, etc.), only about 20-30% actually gets turned into lumber and the rest is left to rot in the forest or the millyard, so there is a huge waste stream ready to be mined too.
My wife is from Guayaquil, Ecuador (a typical third world city of around 3 million inhabitants and growing). It used to be surrounded by dense forests and scrub land, now, because of the local charcoal market, there are very few stands of trees left within thirty miles. The charcoal burners have even taken to cutting down the trees that have been planted along the streets in the city itself. The demand for charcoal in Ecuador is largely for casual use, since bottled gas is cheaper. If demand rose either locally or on the world market, the entrepeneurs there would not hesitate to strip every living thing to the ground, if they thought there was profit in it.
I will say that I think that research into alternative energy is extremely interesting and beneficial, but the cynic in me causes me to anticipate what abuse might be made from it.