Effective Remediation of Environmental Problems
The free fall of global economies is a mesmerizing topic. Finding the means to protect ourselves from the effects of loss of purchasing power can be a significant challenge. However, as Chris has pointed out we are in a time of multiple melt down situations. The ones happening in our oceans (at the outlets of rivers – dead zones, the melting of Arctic sea ice, the melting of large areas of adjcent permafrost, and the release of clathrate stabilized methane), on our farms, neighborhoods, and communities (release of toxic or harmful compounds – hormones, antibiotics, nutrients), and at our resource extraction sites(depletion of nonrenewable resources and the despoiling of sites that should be producing renewable resources but are not) must be corrected. If they are not there will be unexpected consequences at the most inopportune times.
The list above is very challenging. A significant way to deal with nonrenewable resources is to facilitate the use of renewable resources in place of those in short supply. However, that is the opposite of what is happening! Food is now processed and packaged in ways that add materially to the energy cost of the nutrition. Buildings are now build to codes that require steel and masonry rather than timber framing and firestop wall structure. Search: "SWAT Team" in the search box above and go over the comments. The list could go on but you get the idea.
Recent research in soil science has documented with increasing certainty that increasing soil carbon in any of a variety of forms provides the basis for enhancement of soil productivity, stability, decontaminantion (think adsorption of septic wastes, retention of fertilizers, trapping and decomposing of complex organic molecules), and because of this the reduction of pollution of rivers and the eventual dead zones formed at the estuaries.
One way to add very long lasting very open structured carbon to soils is to char biological wastes and mix the char (biochar as opposed to graphite or lampblack) with the surface soil. This can be done effectively up to about 20% of the soil by weight. Ancient soils have shown incorporation depths down to 6′. These ancient soils have continuously supported nutrient demanding crops with very light fertilization. The Japanese have shown that corn has been grown on the same area for 10 rotations with minimal fetrtilizer additions and substantial increases in yield over untreated soil.
Another facet of efficient production of biochar as opposed to the open burning or smoldering of vegetation (which is how the original terra preta was formed) is to control the availability of O2 and control the heating of the material to remove a variety of products and energy before forming the biochar. These extracted compounds can then be converted into a producer gas or some other useable form. There are many manufacturers of these devices, but most lack adequate controls to carefully extract the truly useful compounds or to form the biochar in the most biologically active configurations.
I suggest that this Chapter of the CC needs extensive help to document the assertions that Chris makes about the best being lost completely. It is true that we need to be much more careful about what we use and how we do it, but at the same time we need to recognize those areas where we need much more information and experimentation and investment in proven concepts.
This coming period will be very difficult to do constructive projects if everyone is hunkered down over their gold and silver. So how do we get Chris to address these issues?
A new description of biochar from the Interantional Biochar Initiative:
Biochar is indeed very exciting, and may help rebuild valuable topsoil and generate energy in the process. But even those closely involved with it caution us to remember that it’s only a very small part of what needs to be done.
That said, it’s a promising old technology that has been recently rediscovered!
Great post CameronHill, and welcome to the fray…..
We’ve been following this biochar stuff in Australia for some time. Australia has some of the world’s poorest soils (never glaciated, virtually no vulcanism – except fpr tiny regions, where I live being one). As a result, Australia utterly relies on fossil fuels to grow the food we consume.
I practice Permaculture. On our small plot, we mulch, and mulch, and mulch…… returning much C to the soil. Nothing like bio char of course, but it’s start. We also grow tons of legumes, many in tree form… much more efficient than ground cover like alfalfa etc. And we have lots of birds (ducks and chickens, and soon gees and guinea fowls) We also raise goats. So we have lots of available manure too…. including our own.
Sustainable agriculture is possible, but absolutely not on the broadacre scale. Survival will depend on bio diversity, as much as it might on bio char!
switters, I’ve noticed you use the Permaculture logo as your avatar…. do you practice PC as well?
[quote=Damnthematrix]switters, I’ve noticed you use the Permaculture logo as your avatar…. do you practice PC as well?
Just beginning to. My wife recently finished a course and is "training" me. She lived on a small island in BC completely off the grid for 10 years before we met, and grew a large amount of what she ate. But right now we’re limited in what we can implement because we’re renting and aren’t certain we’re staying where we are.
But we’re doing what we can. Basic grey-water system, chickens & rabbits, good compost, fruit, veggie & medicinal herb garden designed according to PC principles, etc. In an ideal world we’d be on our own land doing all of this but we’re just not there yet.
available on the IBI website (http://www.biochar-international.org). "
The best method of prevention of environment from getting polluted is to reduce the pollution ingradients such air we must stop water,air pollution.
If one wants to live healthy they must reduce the excess use of fossil fuels as they are non renewable..
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