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The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change Paperback – November 23, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716773
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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.

More About the Author

Albert Bates is author of Pour Evian on Your Radishes, The Biochar Solution, The Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook and numerous books, films and new media on food, energy, environment and history. A former environmental rights lawyer, paramedic, brick mason, flour miller, and horse trainer, he received the Right Livelihood Award in 1980 as part of the steering committee of Plenty, working to preserve the cultures of indigenous peoples, and board of directors of The Farm, a pioneering intentional community in Tennessee for the past 35 years. His book Climate in Crisis (January 1990, with a foreword by Al Gore), only missed stealing Bill McKibben's record of "the first book on climate change written for a general audience" by a few weeks. A co-founder and past president of the Global Ecovillage Network, he is presently GEN's representative to the UN climate talks. When not tinkering with pedal wringers for honey, hemp cheeses, or pyrolizing cookstoves, he teaches permaculture, ecovillage design and natural building and is a frequent guest on podcasts. He tweets at @peaksurfer and blogs at peaksurfer.blogspot.com.

Customer Reviews

I wish everyone read this book.
John Harding
If we all do biochar we can sequester carbon dioxide in the soil by the gigaton.
Lindianne Sarno
This is an informative book and very interesting overall.
Michael Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Uncle Ret on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to listen to on my kindle. As of this writing I am at chapter 11 or around 25% into the book and I can honestly say, I learned more about biochar in reading the first paragraph under its header on Wikipedia than I have listening to the book thus far.

The author does a fine job of story telling, taking the reader through a long journey down the Amazon to build sympathy for his argument and then cements that sympathetic view by then rapidly hammering failed agricultural societies. As he does this he salts his conversation with unsupported gems like that the 'Little Ice Age' in medieval Europe was caused by sudden overgrowth by vegetation of Amazonian cities due to their depopulation caused by European diseases and conquest.

If your looking to learn something about biochar, read Wikipedia or try another book. This guy is preaching to the choir in this one. If your already a believer and are looking for warm fuzzies, this is your book.

I intend to finish the book, so perhaps I will be back later to revise this review with 'he's a slow starter but worth the read'.

Edit: At around the midway point, the author starts going into more detail. However, precious little of his discussion relates to biochar. Rather he has moved from the first quarter of the book where he seeks to build emotional support from the reader to the current arguments outlining soil management and environmental responsibility. His style makes this an easy read or listen in my case, however, there is nothing groundbreaking thus far. I think my original rating of 3 is fair.

Edit2: Finished. Though the book was an enjoyable read / listen I'm glad to be done with it.
Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rob Wheeler on May 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most important books that I have ever read. I am a UN NGO Representative for the Global Ecovillage Network and others. I have participated actively in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development for the past 15 years and read hundreds of books and thousands of articles on such subjects. And it really is one of the most important books - I have already read it 2 times through and underlining important information throughout.

Humanity is facing multiple inter-related crises ranging from global warming, food shortages, water scarcity, soil depletion, desertification and on and on. This book provides an overview of an incredibly helpful approach and solutions for dealing with all of the above. It introduces us to an excellent means for sequestrating carbon in the soil, while regenerating soil nutrients, and developing an integrated approach for regreening the deserts, desalinizing water through green house evaporation, and providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for those that are greatly in need of them. Introducing the BioChar Solutions found in the book to those living in the Saharan region of Africa could turn the lives around for hundreds of millions of people, who otherwise are likely to face drought and starvation once again.

The author and my friend, Albert Bates, is a great storyteller. He has founded and runs the Ecovillage Training Center on The Farm in Tennessee, where he lives. Albert is truly a renaissance man and demonstrates in his personal life how the things he writes about can and are being introduced effectively into the world. Read the book -- if you care about the future of humanity and our planet and what can be done to protect them both, you won't regret it.

Rob Wheeler
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joan on January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book reads like a novel, delving back into the history of humankind's influence on this planet's systems. It is rich in documentation and up-to-date research, without sacrificing readability. Add to that a great index and bibliography; it was money well-spent.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Shenandoah Gardner on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's a BLOCK BUSTER!
NEW Genetic/Demographic data, Field Research and Archeological/Paleoclimate data that leaves your jaw on the floor!
The missing pieces of Anthropogenic Climate Change fall into perfect order.

Albert puts you in the canoes, fearing the next woman warrior attack or wondrous visions of the cornucopia derived from this managed tropical Eden. It seems we couldn't "See the AgroForestry for the Trees".
Cutting edge Satellite research; [...]

Big, medium & small scale, he has followed Biochar's use around the globe, here there and everywhere.
Industry scale, like the Mantria Story; Inside out and outside in.
Farm scale mobile reactors.

The small scale patio & third world Clean Cook Stoves, prescient of Mr. Bates given Sec. Clinton's announcement with the Global Stove Initiative, just last week; 100 million clean-burning stoves in kitchens around the world.
[...]

The foreword by Vandana Shiva, India's advocate for small farmers.
Editorial contributions from Elain Engha, mother of the soil food web school of soil science.

Want more?, it is there, I've just tipped this iceberg,
and literally, if we don't want ice-burgs calving by the millions, we must heed this call for Carbon to the Soil.
Can't say enough...

Since we have filled the air, filling the seas to full, soil is the only beneficial place left.
Carbon to the soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

Thanks for your efforts.

Erich J. Knight
Chairman; Markets and Business Review Committee
US BiocharConference, Iowa State University
[...]
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