Simon Fairlie takes issue with what he sees as alarmism about the environmental damage done by wood-burning stoves, while Peter Baddeley wonders why being green is so in conflict with being ‘clean’
Have environmental scientists nothing better to do than scare us with stories about how dangerous nature is (‘Eco’ wood stoves emit 750 times more pollution than an HGV, study shows, 9 October)? Humans have been living in close contact with fire ever since it first enabled us to cook food, keep warm and develop our brain capacity. Thousands of people in rural Britain (including me), and billions throughout the world, rely on wood fires as their primary means of cooking or heating, with minimal greenhouse gas emissions compared with gas cookers and oil-fired central heating, not to mention HGVs.
“The green transition is actually about stopping burning things,” says Kåre Press-Kristensen, the lead author of the study. Really? Once he and his colleagues have succeeded in banning domestic wood stoves, they will presumably turn their attention to candles, campfires, bonfires and agricultural burning. When these are outlawed, they will need to deal with wildfires, which will increase if brushwood is not gathered up for fuel. Finally, when they have plugged the last volcano, and flame on earth is extinguished, their green transition will be consummate and humans will have added a few weeks to their life expectancy.