The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change
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The path we are following began with long-ago discoveries in agriculture, but it divided into two branches, about 8,000 years ago. The branch we have been following for the most part is conventional farming -- irrigation, tilling the soil, and removing weeds and pests. That branch has degraded soil carbon levels by as much as 80 percent in most of the world's breadbaskets, sending all that carbon skyward with each pass of the plow.
The other branch disappeared from our view some 500 years ago, although archaeologists are starting to pick up its trail now. At one time it achieved success as great as the agriculture that we know, producing exponential population surges and great cities, but all that was lost in a fluke historical event borne of a single genetic quirk.
It vanished when European and Asian diseases arrived in the Americas.
From excavations on the banks of the Amazon river, clearings of the savanna/gallery forests in the Upper Xingu, and ethnographic studies of Mesoamerican milpas, science has now re-traced the path of the second great agriculture, and, to its astonishment, found it more sustainable and productive that what we are currently pursuing.
While conventional agriculture leads to deserts, blowing parched dirt across the globe and melting ice caps, this other, older style, brings fertile soils, plant and animal diversity and birdsong. While the agriculture we use has been shifting Earth's carbon balance from soil and living vegetation to atmosphere and ocean, the agriculture that was nearly lost moves carbon from sky to soil and crops. The needed shift, once embarked upon, can be profound and immediate. We could once more become a garden planet, with deep black earths and forests of fruit and nuts where deserts now stand. We can heal our atmosphere and oceans.
Come along on this journey of rediscovery with The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change.
Edo Empire. With neither sails nor compass, and with no safe harbor where they were, Orellana pushed his surviving soldiers to row north around the coast to Paria, in Venezuela. It took seven days and nights of rowing just to escape the tidal estuary and get out to sea, but they were fortunate to have fair weather for the next few weeks. On September 11, they reached Nueva Cádiz, on the island of Cubagua, and from there took passage on a Spanish brig to Santo Domingo, Venezuela. From there,
rate would have been 99.95 percent. Central Mexico, the Andes, and some Caribbean islands were likely to be among the most densely settled regions, but Amazonia, with its abundant food supply and favorable climate, could also have been a region of high population, comparable to Central Asia in the same period.7 Estimates range from 1.5 million8 to 30 million9 people in the Amazonia of Orellana’s time,10 even higher than the present population. If the high estimate is true, the extinction rate,
the market. What may be conveniently described as the NPK mentality dominates farming alike, in the experimental stations and in the countryside. Vested interests entrenched in time of national emergency, have gained a stranglehold. After the Wars, there was cheap and abundant fertilizer in the west, and American companies were anxious to ensure higher fertilizer consumption overseas to recoup their investment. The fertilizer push was an important factor in the spread of new seeds, because
Fresnel-concentrated solar thermal collector towers will turn steam turbines to provide energy. Hauge estimates that a 10,000-hectare (24, 700-acre) area of greenhouses will evaporate over 275 million gallons of seawater per day. The design can produce 450 to 550 tons of high-value horticultural crops per hectare per year and sequester 8 tons of CO2 in soil. A 50-hectare “farm” in the Sahara would produce 34,000 tons of vegetables, employ over 800 people, export 155,000 kilowatt-hours of
work was getting together with friends or relatives and heading out to hunt and fish. For others, it was gathering kindling and driftwood from the beach or looking about for edible roots, berries, eggs, mushrooms, and leaves in the nearby forest. The older children tidied up their infant siblings, swept the dirt floor in the sapling and skin shelter, put on some tea, or set about scraping leather, sewing, playing pebble “marble” games, or taking target practice with fist-sized rocks. Fig. 2: