Elegant Explanation of Biochar by Dr. James Lovelock


Dr. James Lovelock, climate change visionary and originator of the Gaia Hypothesis recently spoke to KUOW in Seattle about climate change, biochar and the future of the human race. We’ve linked to the podcast of the interview below, as it provides a lovely and elegant explanation of the biochar concept, and how it can be used to turn back the clock on climate change. Fast forward to Minute 32 to listen to Lovelock’s thoughts on biochar. We’ve copied some choice quotes below.

KUOW: Today, when you travel around, you look at the world– what is your biggest fear?

Lovelock: My biggest fear is the death of most of the people I see, prematurely, before their natural time.

Lovelock: You’ve got to get the CO2 out of the atmosphere somehow. There are all sorts of schemes, like, getting coal burners to sequester the CO2 that comes out of the stacks and bury it into the ground. This is moonshine. It’s expensive and will never be done on a scale that will make a damn bit of difference to climate change.

Lovelock: You’ve got to do something that’s massive in scale– beyond human efforts. The only thing there is is to use the biosphere itself.

Lovelock: One way to do this is to take the plant products that the biosphere makes from the CO2, and instead of letting animals and us and bacteria eat them, (which would put the CO2 back into the atmosphere within the year), let’s take the plant products and turn them into charcoal. If we do this, charcoal is like gold, it’s almost indestructible… Once we’ve turned it into charcoal that CO2 is taken out of the air for good.

Lovelock: Each farm will have a charcoal generator, and each farmer will put all of the stuff that isn’t food into this charcoal generator. Each year he will have a harvest of charcoal which he will plow back into his fields. In addition to that, he would get a small byproduct of biofuel (bio-oil) which he could sell, or use to drive his tractor.

Lovelock: You don’t do daft things, like planting a forest of trees to turn it to charcoal.. that’s silly. You leave the natural ecosystems where they are alone to do their good job, but you’ve gotta grow food for farming.

Lovelock: Once we start farming the sea, and using the algae for food and fuel, then we can produce charcoal on a grand scale.

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2 Responses to Elegant Explanation of Biochar by Dr. James Lovelock

  1. Erich J. Knight June 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    There is real magic coming out of the Asian Biochar conference.
    15 ear per stalk corn with 250% yield increase,
    Sacred Trees and chickens raised from near death
    Multiple confirmations of 80% – 90% reduction of soil N2O GHG emissions

    The abstracts of the conference are at

    Biochar Reports:
    This new Congressional Research Service report (by analyst Kelsi Bracmort) is the best short summary I have seen so far – both technical and policy oriented.
    http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40186_20090203.pd… .

    This is the single most comprehensive report to date, covering more of the Asian and Australian work;

    Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?

    This is a Nano technology for the soil that represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.

    Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.


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