The next great danger to western civilization is ... wood burning fireplaces.
“The smoke from a fire smells very nice,” said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “But it can cause a lot of harm.” The tiny particles, she said, “can cause inflammation and illness, and can cross into the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks” as well as worsening other conditions....
Not surprisingly, the green community has been sounding the alarm for some time. For the last several years,TheDailyGreen.com, an online magazine, has advocated replacing all wood-burning fireplaces with electric ones; an article published in September by Shireen Qudosi, entitled “Breathe Easier With a Cleaner Fireplace,” argued that there is no such thing as an environmentally responsible fire: “Switching out one type of wood for another is still use of a natural resource that otherwise could have been spared,” Ms. Qudosi wrote. And last fall, an article on the Web site GreenBlizzard.com, “Cozy Winter Fires — Carbon Impact,” called wood-burning fires “a direct pollutant to you, your family and your community.”...
Karen Soucy, an associate publisher at a nonprofit environmental magazine, isn’t swayed by that argument. She refuses to enter a home where wood has been burned, even infrequently.
Ms. Soucy, 46, blames fumes from a wood fire for sending her to the emergency room 25 years ago with a severe asthma attack. She had been staying at a friend’s house in Stowe, Vt., for about a day, she said, when her lungs seized up. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, and got two shots of adrenalin; the doctors blamed her friend’s cat.
“It was only later, working with a team of allergy doctors and pulmonologists, did we determine the culprit to be the wood-burning fumes from the various fireplaces,” Ms. Soucy said.
Now her husband scouts out any place they go in advance, to be sure it’s free of fireplaces, and she passes up countless dinners and parties. “I’m the one who feels guilty for always being the one to decline invitations or for making people go out of their way to clean their home,” she said. Even then, she added, “the smell lingers on everything.”
Absolutely, if you are worried about CO2 emissions, make sure you use an electric heater (some of the most inefficient sources of heat on the planet) powered by a big honking coal plant. Because after all, in you hadn't burned that tree, it would have just fallen over and decomposed into ..uh.. Co2. Which is why I personally advocate shrink-wrapping all Christmas trees after use and burying them deep, rather than mulching them as most cities do, to save the planet.