Perhaps because I’ve always thought that beach roasting Seattle coffee is the coolest thing ever, this headline about beach bonfires being banned at two Seattle beaches caught my eye. I foolishly assumed that, however sad it might be to lose bonfires, there would be some plausible reason for it: safety, overcrowding, etc. But no:
According to a memo to the park board from the staff released Thursday, “The overall policy question for the Board is whether it is good policy for Seattle Parks to continue public beach fires when the carbon … emissions produced by thousands of beach fires per year contributes to global warming.”
Unless Seattlites build their bonfires with barrels of oil, this is the stupidest idea ever. Wood isn’t a fossil fuel. Its carbon isn’t sequestered deep in the earth. Trees live, they die, they rot and put CO2 into the air, and then new trees grow and turn the carbon back into wood. Over the long-term, burning wood is essentially carbon neutral.
Not precisely neutral, of course, but enough so that this guy is clearly facing a false dichotomy:
But at Alki, Nguyen said he’d be OK with banning bonfires. “By all means, I’d rather not have bonfires than have global warming,” he said.
The only way banning bonfires could significantly lower carbon emissions is by making a trip to the beach so much less enjoyable that nobody bothers to drive out to it.
Update: This reminds me of the Flanders, Belgium decision to tax backyard barbecuing because of the activity’s CO2 emissions. The difference is that the Flemish meant the idea as an April Fools Day joke.