When we spread fertilizers and insecticides on our crop fields to enhance the quantity and quality of the yields, we get improvement on one side of the equation and degradation on the other.We have burned fossil fuels for hundreds of years. Before that we burned surface carbon that circulated in the environment on annual or maybe decade-long balanced equations. The failure to understand that there is an equation, and that anything done on one side of the equation affects the other side leads to the Principle of Imminent Collapse. In earlier times it was reasonable to assume that the trees, plants, phytoplankton in the oceans and the water itself could absorb all the carbon we could liberate. However the high rate at which we are introducing of these components into the biosphere is surpassing the biosphere's ability to sequester or otherwise neutralize these destabilizing effects. We cannot dump 8 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year without expecting some movement on the other side of the equal sign. Something will happen as a result. Based upon our state of knowledge of the relatively new sciences of complex systems and ecology, we now understand how even small fluctuations in the concentration of these powerfully controlling constituents can lead to a disastrous cascade of disruptive events in our biosphere which, once started, cannot be stabilized or recalled.
A new question that has been asked is: what does all that carbon in ocean water do to the ability of aquatic life to thrive or even exist?Wood has roughly ½ the carbon content of anthracite coal and therefore has a lower BTU energy content. However, wood is produced over a very short period of time as compared to coal and therefore cycles the carbon over a much shorter time interval. From the standpoint of maintaining stability in the complex chemical and biochemical processes in the biosphere, taking the carbon out of the environment and putting it back within, say, the 20 years for a tree to grow, is a far better method -- no matter what tonnage you use -- because the net carbon change in the atmosphere over the time period is Zero.