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The Solution to Global Warming

November 9, 2008

Regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, the global warming crisis (or “crisis” for those who don’t believe it’s actually happening) will affect everyone. For conservatives who think global warming is a scam being perpetrated by eco-fascists in an effort to impose their agenda, you will be taxed. Now that the Democrats have huge majorities in both houses of Congress along with Barack Obama in the White House, the likelihood of carbon taxes is great.

It really doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in global warming or whether or not you believe it to be man-caused. The fact remains that those who DO believe it is man-caused will implement laws that will greatly affect everyone’s tax rates as well as quality of life.

With this fact stated, it behooves us to work together on a solution that will allow us NOT to be carbon taxed, as well as curtail any draconian environmental measures.

And I have that solution.

Well, to be fair, it’s not my solution. I heard about it in a phone call from Charles Diamond, CEO of MOP Environmental, several months ago. I first met him some 12 or 13 years ago, when I was a reporter for The Courier, a weekly newspaper in Littleton, New Hampshire. While working on our Earth Day issue, I interviewed Charlie about two environmentally-friendly products his firm made, one of which was an oil spill absorbent.

Called MOP (Maximum Oil Pickup), the product was fascinating. It was able to absorb 30 times its own weight in oil (while not absorbing any water – making it perfect for water-based oil spills), but the amazing thing was that up to 95 percent of the oil could be recovered! The product (with the remaining five percent of unrecoverable oil) could be used to fuel an energy producing plant. [NOTE: I will be working on a separate story about MOP and will link it here when done]

I lost track of Charlie after moving to Virginia in 2000, but got back in touch earlier this year. That’s when I was told about the solution to global warming.

You see, after MOP has been used to clean up an oil spill, and the vast majority of the oil recovered, the leftover MOP can be burned in a process that uses no oxygen – pryolysis – which produces biochar . . . a char that has twice as much carbon in its residue than that from other sources.

The char attracts carbon dioxide – actually pulling it out of the atmosphere – and results in a highly effective fertilizer. In fact, this process can be used to actually create soil . . . even in a desert!

Scienece Daily, reporting on a report in the journal Nature, had this to say about the process:

This process, he writes, would double the carbon concentration in the residue, which could be returned to the soil as a carbon sink. The exhaust gases from this process and other biofuel production could then be converted into energy.This so-called biochar sequestration could offset about 10 percent of the annual U.S. fossil-fuel emissions in any of several scenarios, says Johannes Lehmann, associate professor of soil biogeochemistry in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell.

“Biochar sequestration, combined with bioenergy production, does not require a fundamental scientific advance, and the underlying production technology is robust, clean and simple, making it appropriate for many regions of the world,” said Lehmann. “It not only reduces emissions but also sequesters carbon, making it an attractive target for energy subsidies and for inclusion in the global carbon market.”

Most plants pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it up in their biomass or in soil organic matter. But taking this a step further, Lehmann recommends heating the plant biomass without oxygen in a process known as low-temperature pyrolysis. When returned to the soil, biochar creates a stable, long-term carbon sink.

“Biochar also has been shown to improve the structure and fertility of soils, to enhance the retention and efficiency of fertilizers as well as to improve the productivity of soil,” said Lehmann.

Capturing the exhaust gases from the pyrolysis process produces energy in such forms as heat, electricity, bio-oil or hydrogen. By adding the biochar to soil rather than burning it as an energy source (which most companies do), bioenergy can be turned into a carbon-negative industry. Biochar returned to soil not only secures soil health on bioenergy plantations but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 12 to 84 percent.

Compared with ethanol production, pyrolysis that produces biochar and bioenergy from its exhaust gases is much less expensive, Lehmann said, when the feedstock is animal waste, clean municipal waste or forest residues collected for fire prevention.

Lehmann said that as the value of carbon dioxide increases on carbon markets, “we calculate that biochar sequestration in conjunction with bioenergy from pyrolysis becomes economically attractive when the value of avoided carbon dioxide emissions reaches $37 per ton.” Currently, the Chicago Climate Exchange is trading carbon dioxide at $4 a ton; it is projected that that the price will rise to $25-$85 a ton in the coming years.

So there you go. Global warming can be solved without charging us carbon taxes or without foisting upon us all sorts of environmental measures that will severely curtail our way of life.

All it will take is someone with the right connections to grab hold of this technology and the use of MOP on oil spills (land and water) across the country.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. organicpeas permalink*
    November 9, 2008 1:41 pm

    The bio-fuel aspect associate with this process could reduce by 25% our dependence on oil.

  2. November 9, 2008 10:34 pm

    The Rest of the Biochar Story:

    Charles Mann (“1491”)in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.
    I think Biochar has climbed the pinnacle, the Combined English and other language circulation of NGM is nearly nine million monthly with more than fifty million readers monthly!
    We need to encourage more coverage now, to ride Mann’s coattails to public critical mass.

    Please put this (soil) bug in your colleague’s ears. These issues need to gain traction among all the various disciplines who have an iron in this fire.

    I love the “MEGO” factor theme Mann built the story around. Lord… how I KNOW that reaction.

    I like his characterization concerning the pot shards found in Terra Preta soils;

    so filled with pottery – “It was as if the river’s first inhabitants had
    thrown a huge, rowdy frat party, smashing every plate in sight, then
    buried the evidence.”

    A couple of researchers I was not aware of were quoted, and I’ll be sending them posts about our Biochar group:…guid=122501696

    and data base;

    I also have been trying to convince Michael Pollan ( NYT Food Columnist, Author ) to do a follow up story, with pleading emails to him

    Since the NGM cover reads “WHERE FOOD BEGINS” , I thought this would be right down his alley and focus more attention on Mann’s work.

    I’ve admiried his ability since “Botany of Desire” to over come the “MEGO” factor (My Eyes Glaze Over) and make food & agriculture into page turners.

    It’s what Mann hasn’t covered that I thought should interest any writer as a follow up article.

    The Biochar provisions by Sen.Ken Salazar in the 07 farm bill,

    Dr, James Hansen’s Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference last month, and coming article in Science,

    The many new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils

    Glomalin’s role in soil tilth & Terra Preta,

    The International Biochar Initiative Conference Sept 8 in New Castle;

    Given the current “Crisis” atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?
    Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!

    This technology represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.
    Terra Preta Soils a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration,10X Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too. Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration.

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

    Erich J. Knight McGaheysville, VA
    540 289 9750

  3. November 10, 2008 1:44 am

    Global warming can be solved without charging us carbon taxes or without foisting upon us all sorts of environmental measures that will severely curtail our way of life.

  4. November 13, 2008 12:41 pm

    A Black Revolution in Shenandoah Valley Agriculture & Energy

    This virtuous energy cycle converts one ton of Biomass to; 30% Charcoal for soil Sequestration, 25% Synthesis-Gas & 25% Bio-Oil.

    Indeed, Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top Atmospheric authority, is now placing Biochar in the center stage of pro-active solutions for the climate crisis.

    Terra Preta Soils Data base;

    Several Biochar programs are now happening at Virginia Tech & JMU.
    This week VA Tech demonstrated the first ever mobile pyrolysis unit at the Heatwole farm in Dayton VA, converting a ton chicken litter into 1/3 ton Biochar fertilizer the rest Bio-oil and Syn-gas.biofuels.

    The Only Carbon Negative energy system.

    If the American farmer were to be payed what European’s pay in carbon taxes, He would receive $500 for every ton of Biochar spread on his fields.

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

    Erich J. Knight
    540 289 9750

  5. David permalink
    November 21, 2008 12:39 pm

    The best method for addressing a non-problem is to do nothing. Your argument holds no water. Allow the markets to do their jobs, and get the government — and all the socialists and corporatists — out of the damn way!

  6. organicpeas permalink*
    November 21, 2008 3:57 pm

    Are you arguing for unbridled capitalism? Do you not see any danger in that scenario?

  7. December 20, 2010 4:06 pm

    Welcome friends
    I have good news for you; I found the best book about biochar
    It is a truly biochar Bible.
    I believe this is the most beautiful gift for your loved ones.
    A real deal at a great price

  8. January 2, 2011 9:33 pm

    I believe that banning automobiles is the answer. 90% of urban toxic emissions come from them carbon Monoxide is poison and these are causing the ozone layer to fall to ground level. We are killing thousands every year from auto emissions and the autos themselves are being abused in use. I have stood on a corner and have never seen more than 2 out of 10 cars with more than one person in it. The automobile is the lagest waste of energe ever invented by mankind with 1% of the energy used to move the people in it and 99% to push the vehical around. Facts are facts Americans use 400 million gallons of gasoline a day, we cosume 1/3 of world oil production with 1/20 of its population. Benzine is also present with auto use by evaporation of gasoline even after use while the engine is still at operating tempreture it evaporates until its cooled down and evaporates while in use. Has anyone else noticed how few fireflies there are now?


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