Monday, November 9, 2009

Biochar Gains Enormous Political Support

How close is the U.S. to forming a plan to combat climate change? Will biochar be a tool used to sequester C0? Judging from what our top political leaders have been saying, I say soon and most definitely.


President Barrack Obama came out of a meeting recently with key European officials at the White House saying he’s confident that the U.S. and European Union can agree on a framework to solve the climate crisis before the summit meeting in Copenhagen this December. President Obama, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt have all agreed to increase their efforts as December approaches. "We discussed climate change extensively, and all of us agree that it was imperative for us to redouble our efforts in the weeks between now and the Copenhagen meeting to ensure we create a framework for progress in dealing" with the potential disaster," Obama said to reporters at the end of his meeting. [1]


Al Gore is perhaps the most influential climate change advocate and he’s already predicted that the U.S. will be taking big strides as we move forward as a planet to solve climate change. He’s even predicted with confidence that President Obama will attend the summit meeting in Copenhagen. Among his own efforts, the largest would be the release of his new book titled Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.  As a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s new book was written to shine light on the best solutions available to help in the crisis. “In addition to hosting these group meetings, I have engaged in a large number of one-on-one sessions with other leading experts around the world in an extended effort to find the most effective courses of action...One of the most exciting new strategies for restoring carbon to depleted soils and sequestering significant amounts of C02 for 1,000 years, and more, is the use of biochar [2]”.


Gore describes biochar in his book as “ a form of fine-grained, porous charcoal that is highly resilient to decomposition in most soil environments”. As a solution to climate change Gore wrote, “Burying biochar in soil replenishes the carbon content, protects important soil microbes and helps the soil retain nutrients and water. It also reduces the accumulation of greenhouse gas pollution by avoiding the releases that would occur from the rotting of the biomass on the surface, by sequestering the C02 contained in the biochar, and by assisting the process by which plants growing in the soil pull C0out of the air with photosynthesis”. As far as established biochar businesses go, Gore noted that Mantria Industries in Tennessee has built a commercial-scale biochar plant that sells under the band name EternaGreen™.  Biochar Brokers Inc. is the world’s largest distributor of EternaGreen™ Biochar. [2]


With Obama redoubling efforts for a solution to climate change and Gore supporting biochar as the solution, it’s only a matter of time until a system is established with incentives for the global use of biochar. Gore notes that the principal barrier of biochar is the lack of a price on carbon, which would be resolved by the cap and trade proposal.  After that’s in place there is no stopping biochar from being “ the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future”, Gore writes in big red text quoting Tim Flannery. [2]


[1] Randall, Maya Jackson. Obama: US, EU To Boost Climate-Change Efforts Before Summit. Dow Jones Newswires. 11/13/09.


[2] Gore, Al. Our Choice: A Plant to Solve the Climate Crisis. Melcher Media. 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Biochar Represented on the International Day of Climate Change

This past Saturday on October 24th could have potentially been the largest global rally ever! Hosted by was the International Day of Climate Action where 181 countries participated in over 5,400 events uniting the world to act on the climate crisis we all face. The consistent theme of all the events was to shine light on the most meaningful number to planet Earth, 350. 350 parts per million is the upper safe level which scientists have identified as the limit for C02 in the atmosphere. The world is currently at 387 parts per million of C02, which is why we are experience a global climate change. I encourage all of you to visits and view pictures from around the world where images with the number 350 were uniquely formed by mass crowds.[1]


The loudest voices for climate action on this day were unsurprisingly heard from the island countries. With the arctic sea ice down 34% and the sea level up 58 mm since 1993 [2] , island countries are in fear of completely disappearing underwater. The President of Maldives, a country represented by 1,200 islands, said "If we cannot save 350,000 Maldivians from rising seas today, we cannot save the millions in New York, London, or Mumbai tomorrow," [3].



At some of these events biochar was being represented as an effective solution for reducing the 387 parts per million of C02 in the atmosphere. At a climate action event in Warner, New Hampshire “Put the Carbon Back in the Garden “ was a biochar theme organized by George Packard. Mr. Packard advocating that if a million people put 30 pounds of biochar in their gardens [4] not only will they increase yields, save money on fertilizer and irrigation, but they will help the world take 51,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  At the “Big Event” which was held on the steps of the Colorado State Capital Building in Denver, Colorado a neon sign was held with the words “Biochar Will Help The World Get Down to 350” [5].



[1] 350. “International Day of Cliamte Action”.


[2] NASA. “Global Climate Change”.


[3] CNN. “International day of Demonstrations on Climate Change.” CNN 10/26/09.


[4] Packard, George. “Put the Carbon Back Into the Garden”. 10/23/09.


[5] 350Denver. “350 Denver”.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Biochar: the Preferred Weapon in the War on Climate Change.

The biochar world is proud to announce one of its newest advocators, British entrepreneur billionaire Richard Branson. Branson is the founder of the brand name Virgin, which represents over 360 companies worldwide. [1] Lately, Branson has been allocating his efforts towards mitigating climate change. This past February, Branson teamed up with former vice president Al Gore offering $25 million dollars to anyone who can remove at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere. Additionally, Branson pledged to invest $3 billion dollars to fighting climate change. "I believe in our resourcefulness and in our capacity to invent solutions to the problems we have ourselves created," said Branson. [2]

With the idea that every war needs a war room, Branson helped create in Washington what is being referred to as the “Carbon War Room”. This special war room is designed for the specific purpose of examining all possible ways to not only cut emissions but also remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. “All options are on the table,” Branson explained. Of those options, Branson enthusiastically focused on biochar as perhaps the most promising idea. Branson is in absolute favor of a direct intervention to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and that’s exactly what biochar technology accomplishes. [3] Michael Turnbull, Australia’s former environmental minister, has recently said that biochar has the potential to absorb one-fifth of emissions in his country while also raising agricultural productivity. [4]

[1] “The World's Billionaires”.#236 Richard Branson”. Forbes. 3/5/08.

[2] “Tycoon Hopes to Spur Milestone Research”. Kevin Sullivan. Washington Post. 2/10/07.

[3] “Sir Branson Endorses Biochar”. Art Donnelly. 10/19/09.

[4] “Debating the Climate Benefits of ‘Biochar’”. James Kanter. New York Times. 4/15/09.

Unusual Advocates for Climate Change Mitigation.

Most recently in the news we have been hearing about some unusual advocates for climate change legislation and some unusual ways to advocate. Maldives is a small island country in the Indian Ocean creating quite the ripple effect for climate change action. With the idea that climate change could put Maldives completely below sea level, the President of Maldives and his ministers held a symbolic cabinet meeting underwater this past week. The meeting was held as part of, which is an international movement to bring increased global attention to climate change. On October 24, (this Saturday) has organized a global day of action. Maldives, a country of just 350,000, is again trying to bring attention to the cause as they have organized 14 events for this day we are sure to hear about. [1]

Climate Changes’ newest advocates may be dressed in camouflage but are certainly not in hiding. Realizing that climate change has already begun disrupting certain recreational activities, hunters and fishers have started lobbying for climate change legislation. "If you go out and hunt at the same time in the same season and the same place every year, then you understand the changes that are happening," said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for conservation at the National Wildlife Federation. The Dallas Safari Club, the National Trappers Association and Pheasants Forever are three of the 20 national hunting and fishing groups that have signed a letter asking the Senate to pass climate legislation that both reduces greenhouse gas emissions and safeguards national resources. [2]


[1] “Maldives holds underwater cabinet meeting to bring attention to climate change”. Daniel Kessler. San Francisco, California. 10/18/09.

[2] “Conservative hunters and fishermen back climate change legislation”. The Huffington post. Jenna Staul.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Northeast Biochar Symposium 2009

On November 13th the University of Massachusetts in Amherst is hosting the 2009 Northeast Biochar Symposium. This all day event will highlight current biochar research, technological advances and provide the most recent biochar information available. Two keynote speakers at this event are Johannes Lehmann and Dr. Christoph Steiner. Johannes Lehmann is a biochar expert and author of the book Biochar for Environmental Management: Science and Technology. He conducts his experimental research at Cornell University. His two presentations at the Biochar Symposium are titled “Biochar & Soil Fertility” and “Biochar & Carbon Sequestration”. Dr. Christoph Steiner is also a biochar expert who has participated in the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference. His two presentations are titled “Biochar and Soil Fertility” and “Biochar in the UN Climate Talk”. As a whole the Symposium will provide a forum for research exchange, stimulate biochar discussions, allow for an advanced networking setting and establish a Northeast Biochar Initiative. The event is to also gain national media attention for biochar.  To register for the Northeast Biochar Symposium 2009 or to learn more you can visit

Monday, October 12, 2009

Political Forces Uniting for Climate Change

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) have joined forces in writing an opinion piece calling for senate unity to create a bipartisan agreement on dealing with climate change. The piece was 2 pages in length and published by the New York Times. In its context was the outlining of agreements both parties should compromise on to achieve an advantageous bill. The first issue discussed calls for unanimous consent that as a country we need to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions through a market-based system that will provide flexibility and an appropriate time-line for big polluters. It was noted that a failure to do so would threaten our economy and national security. Also written to be included in legislation was the importance of pursuing emission-free, nuclear power and breaking our dependence on oil from hostile nations. “Even climate change skeptics should recognize that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and increasing our energy efficiency strengthens our national security. Both of us served in the military. We know that sending nearly $800 million a day to sometimes-hostile oil-producing countries threatens our security”. At the end of the piece the senators pointed out that a failure to come to agreements and pass legislation would result in the Environmental Protection Agency imposing new regulations, which “...are likely to be tougher and they certainly will not include the job protections and investment incentives we are proposing”. [1]

Also in the news for shifting positions on climate change was Chinese President Hu Jintao. Jintao’s speech is being called the first climate change speech spoken by a Chinese leader addressed to the United Nations. The President announced that China will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing its reliance on clean energy sources. Although no target levels for cutting emissions were mentioned, China did say they would develop both renewable and nuclear energy technologies. Additionally, China is to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares to sequester carbon as emission offsets. [2]


[1] “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)” John Kerry and Lindsey Graham. New York Times. 10/10/09.,%20lindsey%20graham%20opinion%20piece&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=1&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1255370468-pkcBYTYaYODzGWEPsMNdxQ           

[2] “Chinese President Pledges Steps to Combat Climate Change”. CNN. 9/22/09.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Businesses and Investors are Advocating for Climate Change Regulation

The US Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation and is consistently a well-known leader in lobbying expenditures. The Chamber represents 3 million businesses of all sizes and sectors [1] but will no longer be representing some big companies like Apple due to the Chambers stance on climate change. [2]
The Obama administration recently instructed the EPA to be the regulator of greenhouse gas emissions with or without congressional approval. In response to that, the Chamber of Commerce just filed a 21-page petition to the EPA. In the petition the Chamber is asking the EPA to hold a public debate on the science behind climate change. Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s VP for environmental, regulatory and government affairs, said “They don’t have the science to support the endangerment findings...we can’t just take their word for it”. EPA Deputy Press Secretary, Brenden Gilfillan, rejected the Chamber saying that a debate on this issue wouldn’t be moving America forward. [3]
Nike is to leave its position on the board of directors [4] while Apple Inc., Exelon Corp., PG&E and PNM Resources have all recently reported that they are leaving the US Chamber of Commerce based on the Chamber’s opposition to climate change regulation. Nike believes that US businesses should be advocators for climate change legislation not roadblocks. [5] Nike is even a founding member of “BICEP” which stands for “Businesses for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy”. Additional founders are Levi Strauss and Co., Starbucks, Sun Microsystems, and Timberland. Members of “BICEP” include Aspen Skiing Co., Cliff bar & Co., eBay, Gap Inc., The North Face, Seventh Generation, Symantec, and Jones Lang LaSalle. [6]
Additionally, 181 of the world’s top investors controlling 13 trillion dollars are demanding for a strong binding agreement in Copenhagen this December. Mindy S. Lubber, President of Ceres and Director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, said: “Investors have a crucial role to play in building a low-carbon, energy efficient global economy. But without strong policies that encourage clean technologies and discourage high-polluting technologies, their hands are tied.” [7]
With the government and civilian population pushing for climate change legislation it appeared that the only missing party was businesses and investors. With the addition of these new members the climate change argument has once again strengthened. It is now overwhelming likely that some type of regulation will be in effect soon.
[1] “The US Chamber of Commerce”. 10/6/09.
[2] “Climate change war roils US Chamber of Commerce.” Los Angelos Times.
[3] “Chamber Threatens Lawsuit if EPA Rejects Climate Science Trial”. Michael Burnham. New York Times.
[4] “Nike Opposes US Chamber of Commerce & Leaves Board, over Climate Change. Zachary Shahan.
[5]"Apple leaves U.S. Chamber over stance on climate change bill". Jim Snyder.

[6] “Nike, Starbucks demand Congress to Act on Climate Change”. Jerry James Jones.
[7] “100s of Investors (with 13 trillion) Demand Strong Climate Deal in Copenhagen”.  Zachary Shahan.