By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev
As job losses soar and major parts of the financial world descend into insolvency, you may feel that you’re apocalypsed-out. If so, you may not immediately leap at James Lovelock’s new book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia. His warning that climate change is spinning us into a hotter world, where billions will starve and whole ecosystems will collapse, is a horror few want to contemplate. But his prophecies are plausible and they will also make you think, which are two good reasons to grit your teeth and read him. The Vanishing Face of Gaia, hailed as “the most important book for decades”, is powerful because Lovelock is a serious, hands-on scientist. What he calls his “final warning” has new resonance because of the increasingly alarming data that is coming from the observation of everything from species numbers and deforestation to sea levels and Arctic ice.
Now for the good news…black is the new green. As reported first in last month’s SLDI Newsletter, Lovelock believes that charcoal produced from biomass, known as “biochar,” is one of the only answers to climate change we have. He states, “There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal…you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast.” The theory is that biomass – any plant or animal material – can be turned into charcoal by heating it in the absence of oxygen and by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere; the impact on climate change could be huge. According to some early estimates of biochar’s potential, this wonder substance alone could achieve all the carbon reductions necessary to prevent further global warming. Furthermore, the properties of biochar allow us to address three or four critical crises at once: the climate-change crisis, the energy crisis, and the food and water crises, because renewable bio-fuel is a by-product of the pyrolysis production process. Putting biochar in the soil not only fertilizes the soil, but also helps it to retain and purify water.
Sustainable Land Development International has partnered with Ocean Mountain Ranch–a planned eco-forestry sustainable development overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the largest remaining old growth forest on the southern Oregon coast–to research and develop woody biomass utilization opportunities in cooperation with the Port Orford Community Stewardship Area under a comprehensive forest stewardship management plan, which has been approved by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Northwest Certified Forestry under the high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
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