Dealing with my frustration with the climate change debate

Frighten and frustrated by all you’ve read about what’s going on with the climate and all the arguments going back and forth about it?  I sure am.  I’ve read many books on the science of what’s going on as well as books discussing possible solutions.  I’ve read article after article in newspapers and magazines,  watched documentaries and special news shows and attended local meetings on various associated topics. It all seems  so overwhelming which I suppose is why so many people would rather just deny that there’s a problem at all.   They are aided in their denial by those who are profiting by the status quo.

I’m also frustrated with businesses that come up with reasons why what they’ve been doing all along is suddenly “green” or make some very minor movement toward being “green” just to be able to make the “green” claim.  Everything is marketed as “Green”, “Eco-friendly”, “Organic”, or “Natural” but has anything really change much?  Probably not. I can’t control what other people do but I can control what I do and I am making big changes in how I do things.

Deforestation is a big concern for me as I’m in the business of using forest products.  While there are a number of forest product certification programs that claim to make sure logging companies harvest responsibly I have concerns that they really aren’t changing how things are done and as a very small company  I certainly can’t verify whether they are or not for myself.  For this reason I now use as much local lumber as possible. Vermont has in place a program that gives property tax breaks to landowners who “practice long term forest management” (Learn more about this)  and I buy lumber from a Vermont supplier who harvests lumber from these lands. I also am starting to use lumber from my own land in my furniture.  Harvesting the lumber myself has prompted me to find uses for the lower grade lumber that is present in all trees and also to find uses for the less popular species of wood.  A healthy forest requires that all species be thinned and harvested not just the highly valued ones.  You can see an example of this in some tables I just completed for a local restaurant.  These tables were made from some cherry harvested from my own land.  The outside boards cut from all cherry logs will have a high percentage of sap wood (white wood in cherry). Often these boards are discarded or used for low value products.  I plan on offering pieces made from lower grade lumber in addition to my current offerings.  This lumber makes for a very unique piece of furniture that is no less functional or structurally sound than one made from higher grade lumber.

Another big change I am making is to have solar panels installed to provide power for my shop. These panels will be grid tied which means that any excess power produced will feed into the grid and be credited on my electric bill.  When my shop needs more power than the panels are providing (on a cloudy day for example) it will come from the grid.  The solar array is designed so that its yearly power production will be the same as my yearly power consumption.

While what I’m doing will, by itself, make just barely the slightest difference to the climate I hope that it will give others the courage to make their own big changes.

Richard Bissell
Putney, Vermont

Shaker, Mission & Custom Furniture since 1982


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