Duke Study: Burning Trees Not Carbon Neutral

Jun 4, 2012

In recent years, wood burning has gained popularity as a carbon neutral alternative to fossil fuels. But new research from Duke University suggests it's not as green as it seems.

Asma Khalid: We all know trees absorb carbon dioxide. So, the thought is that when you burn wood, you're transferring already-existing carbon from trees into the air. And that carbon is ingested by new trees. True. But, that takes a really long time. Plus, burning wood releases less energy, so you need to burn more of it.
Steve Mitchell is the lead scientist on the study.

Steve Mitchell: With wood you get half the amount of energy typically than with conventional fossil fuels

Mitchell says it'll take at least 100 years for everything to equal out.

Mitchell: You're going to be doing more harm than good than if you were to just be using fossil fuels.

Mitchell says burning forest trees will not curb climate change; it'll only add to the problem.