comment on wood burning fireplaces and iirrationality by Sam

 
softwarevisualization
 
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softwarevisualization
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04 February 2012 05:02
 

Anyone read today’s blog post?  This is completely correct IMO. Burning wood in fireplaces is a terrible decision, and not just for the carbon foot print issue- which is actually arguable for sustainably grown forests, but for the health issue you inflict on your neighbors (and they on you).


We went through this when we were deciding how to heat our superinsulated home. Like everyone else we loved the idea of a fireplace. Too bad about the underlying reality of burning wood. There went that dream up in smoke.

 

 

 

 
 
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Aeolus13
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04 February 2012 07:46
 

I did read the article, and I did like it, but I think Sam drew exactly the wrong conclusion.  I, like other readers, thought wood-burning stoves were great, or at least not as harmful as smoking.  Sam laid out a compelling, intuitive case for why that is emphatically untrue, and I, like many other readers, updated my worldview accordingly. 

I get what Sam’s trying to do, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to say anything that simulates what it feels like to cling to an irrational belief.  It’s precisely the willingness to have your worldview fit the evidence that leads people from religion to begin with.  It’s precisely the insistence on accepting only evidence that fits your worldview that keeps people in the thrall of dogma.  In other words, I doubt you’re going to find many defenders of the wood stove on this board.

 
softwarevisualization
 
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softwarevisualization
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04 February 2012 10:37
 

Forgot to post my bookmark on this topic that is extremely informative from a health and green POV.


http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/should-green-homes-burn-wood

 
chichesterpsalms
 
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chichesterpsalms
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04 February 2012 11:08
 

I’ve been reading Sam’s writings for several years now, and I’m continually impressed with the logic and clarity of his arguments. I am also the proud owner of a high efficiency EPA certified wood burning insert (emissions at 3.4 grams/hour) which we use to heat our New England home all winter.

My question is this: with emissions at 3.4 grams/hour and a re-entry fraction of 70%, that means we’ve got around 2.4 grams/hour of “bad particles” re-entering our home due to our wood burning. I have no way of assessing how harmful that is. It seems facile to say “any increase is bad”: We live about 2 miles from an interstate. What’s the ingress particle contribution from that? And what rate is safe anyway? 20 grams/hour? 0.001 grams/hour? Increasing the particle content of the air we breathe by 2.4 grams/hour leads to exactly what percent increase in mortality, COPD, asthma, etc?

Don’t the answers to these questions matter in terms of deciding whether I should stop burning wood? (BTW, the neighbors are far away, hence my self-centered line of questioning).

[ Edited: 04 February 2012 11:18 by chichesterpsalms]
 
 
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myforwik
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04 February 2012 15:27
 

70% is probably the total that could enter nearby buildings in an urban area. The amount entering your own building if you have a tall chimney and wind out on a more open field is probably far less.

It would be good if Sam had some more sources. I think you have to pay to get the recommended reading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17127644 which should have quantified data.

I think Sam’s articles are great. They are always intellectually honest and to the truth - even if it is a brutal truth.

 
softwarevisualization
 
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softwarevisualization
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04 February 2012 16:04
 

chcichesterpaslams:

This might be of interest and also my previous link above if you happened not to see it.

http://burningissues.org/car-www/index.html

 
 
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kikl
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05 February 2012 16:18
 
softwarevisualization - 04 February 2012 05:02 AM

Anyone read today’s blog post?  This is completely correct IMO. Burning wood in fireplaces is a terrible decision, and not just for the carbon foot print issue- which is actually arguable for sustainably grown forests, but for the health issue you inflict on your neighbors (and they on you). ...

I think this is pretty much a non-issue. Sam is bored and trying to be provocative.

 
 
 
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QuakePhil
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06 February 2012 08:34
 

I liked the article.  I could see the delusion forming in myself, although I can easily suppress it since a) I’m not that big of a fan of fireplaces and b) inhaling massive fumes is generally a bad idea, I don’t even need a scientific article to reckon that much.


More than that, I can totally think of a couple of people in my had who would freak out and fully exhibit such a delusion, even though I never thought about it that way.

 
pbeardmore
 
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pbeardmore
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06 February 2012 16:47
 

well I am a massive fan of wood burning fires (if I cut up the logs using a 2 stroke chainsaw, its a double whammy) so it was with some interest that I read the article and then followed it up with some more web research. As someone who is determined not to be deluded, I must have reference and due consideration to the facts and, therefore, have to admit that woodburning does seem to be harmful to the environment. I will however, continue to enjoy what has now become a guilty pleasure. So I maybe selfish but I am not deluded.

 
softwarevisualization
 
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softwarevisualization
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07 February 2012 12:05
 

From what I can see if you don’t have close neighbors or children,  the offense is small. FWIW. I am basing this on the GBA link I provided earlier. IT would be a bad thing for the environment if we all reverted to burning wood. Very bad, but, that’s not going to happen. Me personally, it’s out of my life unhappily.

 
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softwarevisualization
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07 February 2012 12:08
 
kikl - 05 February 2012 04:18 PM
softwarevisualization - 04 February 2012 05:02 AM

Anyone read today’s blog post?  This is completely correct IMO. Burning wood in fireplaces is a terrible decision, and not just for the carbon foot print issue- which is actually arguable for sustainably grown forests, but for the health issue you inflict on your neighbors (and they on you). ...

I think this is pretty much a non-issue. Sam is bored and trying to be provocative.


No. he’s trying to invoke into his likely audience - non believers- the emotional response to an issue that believers experience when confronted with discomfiting facts. He’s trying to give his audience genuine insight into what it’s like to have a comforting thing attacked by facts and cold science with the follow on implication that that comforting thing should be forsaken.


I thought it was a good post. Probably a lot of people are reading it and mulling it over without posting, as Sam might have intended.

 

 
 
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coolcat
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03 July 2014 02:39
 

This is the facts that I have experienced since moving to the current house 6 years ago ( I am in Australia).

The current neighbor here uses wood fire to keep warm.

Whenever their fire is on, our back yard and inside the house would be filled with smoke, smoke is trapped inside our house and it makes it hard for me to breathe.  Note the selfish neighbor has their house built right against our backyard. 

We have put up with the smoke for so many years.  I have never touched a cigarette in my life, last year I cough up blood, I always have bloody nose whenever their wood fire is on. And my throat is always sore as well when the wood fire is on.  I had CT scan on my lung done as it’s was a lot of blood came out of my mouth.  I was so scared.  Although the scan was clear.
However I always has this doubt that the blood was associated with breathing in filthy smoky air.

You have to believe it, smoke from wood fire is definitely no good for health.

It causes a lot of stress to our family too with two young kids.  My kids have soar eyes.  What can we do?  Where can I seek help if the council cannot help?  Note the council has inspected their fireplace and they said they need to have evidence that the smoke is so bad, but the wood fire only starts afterhours at night time after the council workers have knocked off work. 
Any legal channels to sort the problem?  NOte we have spoke to the neighbor and invite them to come to our house to smell the smoke, and the selfish people said they did not care, they need heating and they like the smell.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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03 July 2014 04:45
 

This is a symptom of an inadequately elevated chimney. Unless the top of the chimney is higher than the highest peak of the roof or structure, the cool downdraft from the rising heat will cool the smoke particulates and cause them to drift sideways. This is often overlooked when adding a second floor.

Offer to split the cost of extending the chimney or check with local code enforcement.