Reads like a detective story but marked by impressive scholarship. New historical evidence that climate is remarkably responsive to human impacts had me gripping the edge of my seat. --The Permaculture Activist
Review BioScience Magazine, October 2011
For those who are not scientists directly involved with biochar, this is a book worth reading. It presents the science that got biochar rolling, the technologies already available, and how to use it to enhance food security and restore degraded agroecosystems. It is well designed for international agricultural aid staff, nongovernmental organization activists, and agricultural extensionists. Anyone interested in climate change mitigation and adaptation will gain something from this book, because Bates is careful to point out that mitigation and adaptation will only succeed if global society decides to change the ways it thinks about population and consumption.
BioScience, Vol. 61, No. 10 (October 2011), pp. 831-833
University of California Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences
May 2011 CHOICE
The basic premise of this book is that the carbon cycle must be balanced for a healthy planet. To prove this idea, Bates, an instructor and writer (Climate in Crisis, 1990; The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, 2006), claims that when ancient Amazonian civilizations collapsed, rain forests engulfed the cities and roads. Archaeologists and historians are still puzzled about the reasons for the demise of these Amazonian empires. Bates asserts that starting around the ninth century, Europe began growing colder due to massive sequestering of carbon from the atmosphere by these new immense Amazonian forests. He examines several techniques for combating global warming, such as using biochar and less destructive tilling techniques, and restraining global corporations that manufacture synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified seed stocks. The author also recommends massive tree planting and a change in cultural attitudes about how humans manage Earth's resources. One unique solution to global warming is to provide poor, rural third world people with biochar stoves that generate needed heat and produce biochar. Agricultural use of biochar would reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and slow down global warming.
Summing Up: Recommended. All undergraduate students and general readers interested in biochar. -- K. Bennett, emeritus, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
From the Back Cover
Conventional agriculture destroys our soils, pollutes our water and is a major contributor to climate change. What if our agricultural practices could stabilize, or even reverse these trends? The Biochar Solution
explores the dual function of biochar as a carbon-negative energy
source and a potent soil-builder. Created by burning biomass in the absence of oxygen, this material has the unique ability to hold carbon back from the atmosphere while simultaneously enhancing soil fertility. Author Albert Bates traces the evolution of this extraordinary substance from the ancient black soils of the Amazon to its reappearance as a modern carbon sequestration strategy.
Combining practical techniques for the production and use of biochar with an overview of the development and future of carbon farming, The Biochar Solution
describes how a new agricultural revolution can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to below zero while increasing world food reserves and creating energy from biomass wastes.
Biochar and carbon farming can:
* Reduce fossil fuels inputs into our food system
* Bring new life to desert landscapes
* Save cooking and heating fuel with super-efficient stoves
* Help build carbon-negative homes, communities and nations.
Biochar is not without dangers if unregulated, and it is not a panacea, but if it fulfills its promise of taking us back from the brink of irreversible climate change, it may well be the most important discovery in human history.
Albert Bates was a civil sector representative at the Copenhagen climate conference, trying to point the world back towards a stable atmosphere using soils and trees. His books include Climate in Crisis
and The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook
. Working with the Global Ecovillage Network he has taught appropriate technology, natural building and permaculture to students from more than 60 nations.