I would like to take issue with the letter written by Patty Peckham (“Support for Yorktown’s Solar Law”) to the extent that it is a bit one-sided. She talks about the differences in the amount of CO2 absorbed by trees relative to the amount saved by reducing our carbon footprint and leaves it at that. However, she ignores the oxygen output of the trees.
• “A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year.” (Arbor Day Foundation)
• “A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at the rate of 48 pounds/year and release enough oxygen back into atmosphere to support two human beings.” (McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December 1993)
• “One acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year.” (The New York Times)
• “A 100-foot tree, 18” diameter at its base, produces 6,000 pounds of oxygen.” (Northwest Territories Forest Management)
• “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” (Environment Canada, Canada’s national environmental agency)
She also ignores the effect that clear-cutting has on not only the flora but also the fauna. There are a great variety of creatures that live in this area and clear cutting an area that large can only damage that habitat.
In addition, when we talk about reducing our carbon footprint it is looked at on a national level, however, we cannot ignore the local consequences. Most of us live up here because of this is the environment. We like the fresh air that the trees bring and the sight and sounds of various wildlife.
One more thing I would like to add; some time ago, I received a flier in the mail from a solar farm asking me to hook up with them. Part of the flier stated that I might not save money and might even pay more than I was at the time, BUT that I would be helping the environment. Now, I am environmentally conscious, as are most of those who live up here, but when I think of putting solar panels on my house it’s mainly to save money and I would venture to say that’s the primary reason most do it. So when a solar farm comes in and says they are here to save the environment, the questions I want to ask are: 1) Will it save me money, 2) can you do it without destroying the current environment, and 3) are you doing this to save the environment or make money? Because if you’re doing it to save the environment, will you do it as a not-for-profit organization? We all know that answer.