Earth Talk: Saving Our Soils and Climate with Biochar

Dear EarthTalk: What is biochar and how can it help reduce my carbon footprint?

– W.J.

Biochar is a naturally occurring, fine-grained, highly porous form of charcoal derived from the process of baking biomass—and it’s been associated with fertile soils for some two thousand years. “Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices,” reports the International Biochar Initiative (IBI), a trade group representing the world’s burgeoning biochar industry. “Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer.”

 

Indeed, researchers have been hard at work perfecting their own methods for manufacturing biochar by baking biomass in giant oxygen-free kilns. The resulting biochar can then be used as a soil amendment to help restore tired, compromised farmland, not to mention contaminated industrial sites, all the while taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. A liquid by-product of the biochar production process can also be converted into a carbon-neutral “biofuel” that can displace other carbon intensive fuels.

 

Farmers can layer biochar into their fields where it becomes part of the soil matrix and helps retain water and essential agricultural nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. “You can basically think of it as a soil reef upon which abiotic and biotic phenomena happen,” says David Shearer, CEO of Full Circle Biochar, one of a handful of U.S. based biochar start-ups working to commercialize the age-old “technology.” Farmers like the fact that using biochar can lower their water and fertilizer bills as well as yield more and better quality agricultural products—leading to better market performance overall. “This is really a hedge for farmers,” reports Shearer. “It really helps them manage their financial risk and it helps them manage risk into the future around production.”

 

Beyond agriculture, biochar can also be used to clean up polluted land. “For example, if you have a mine that has contaminated soil adjacent to it, biochar … will allow you to remediate soils,” says Shearer. He adds that biochar also makes for an excellent filtration medium: “We know that activated charcoal has been used for millennia as a filter mechanism, and so there is discussion in the biochar community that maybe the first step is we’ll use it as a filtration media, and then we’ll move to agriculture as the cost of production of biochar comes down.”

 

As far as environmentalists are concerned, the greater the demand for biochar the better, given the fact that it is a potent storage mechanism for carbon dioxide that would otherwise head into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. “The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years,” reports IBI. “We can use this simple, yet powerful, technology to store 2.2 gigatons of carbon annually by 2050. It’s one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable and quickly scalable. We really can’t afford not to pursue it.”

 

CONTACTSInternational Biochar Initiative (IBI), www.biochar-international.org; Full Circle Biochar, www.fullcirclebiochar.com.

 

 

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 20,2014: Hermosa Beach Farmers Market

Market Hours:
Year Round
Friday  12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Location: 11th Street, 1035 Valley Dr., Hermosa Beach, 90254



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 20,2014: Sportball Junior

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 20,2014: Erotic City

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 19,2014: Berlin and Kyle Fletcher

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 17,2014: True Press

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

The Caesars Sunrise Heroes Give Back To Their Communities

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 14,2014: Young Dubliners and Hoist The Colors


The hard-rocking Irish band, the Young Dubliners owe everything to their fans. “They keep us honest, expecting good music both on the road and on the albums,” mentions frontman Keith Roberts.

The inspiration for Real World, the group’s third record on Higher Octave, is drawn from the trials and tribulations of being a real, working band and their life on the road. “We are all aware of how lucky we are to be making a living by doing what we love. Without being on the road and playing to our fans, that just wouldn’t be possible,” Roberts explains. Building a fervent fan base comparable to that of jam band rockers like Phish and Dave Matthews Band, The Young Dubliners have become notorious for the whirling “jig pits” that erupt at their live shows.

In fact, the group’s origins can be traced back to Los Angeles’ vibrant pub scene in which Dublin natives Keith Roberts (vocals, guitar) and Paul O’Toole first met. Roberts was composing some Irish ballads at the time and thought a band might be in the offing. Assembling a rag-tag team of Irish transplants and like-minded American rockers, The Young Dubliners grew into a pugnacious music machine resulting in their debut, the Rocky Road EP (1994). It exhibited a hefty rock sound that made them a club favorite. Breathe followed a year later with the addition of Chas Waltz (violin, keys, harmonica, etc).

By 2000, the band had morphed into a septet without O’Toole and released the critically acclaimed Red. The presence of the band sky-rocketed: Gabriel Byrne requested the band to write the theme song for his television show Madigan Men and they spent much of 2001 touring Europe with Jethro Tull, and the US as headliners and as openers for acts such as John Hiatt and Robert Cray. The Young Dubliners also revved up the crowd at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. That same year, the band scaled back down to a five-piece – Roberts, Brendan Holmes (Bass), the returning Waltz (who had left the band in 1995), Bob Boulding (guitar) and David Ingraham (drums) – and released Absolutely. “It really was a reflection of the band,” says Roberts. “It’s got the sense of humor of the band, along with the balls-y lyrics that maybe in the past I couldn’t bring myself to write. You put it all together and you get this good-feeling, upbeat album. That record captures us at the time, Absolutely. The return of Chas Waltz, multi-tasking on fiddle, keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, and backing vocals, heralded a renewed creative vigor. “My leaving had more to do with previous obligations than with creative differences,” he explains. “When Keith asked if I was interested in coming back, I was ready to get back to being part of a band and touring again.”

After going on a number of headlining and co-headlining US tours (Johnny Lang, Collective Soul, Great Big Sea and others), the quintet settled down to record Real World – an album influenced by their predecessors (Waterboys/Pogues/U2/Big Country) and most importantly, life on the road. From Irish-flavored anthemic rock to rowdy pub tunes, lead singer Keith Roberts voice is stronger than ever and the songwriting, performance, and production show a new maturity and artistic ambition. Roberts notes, “Since Absolutely, we’ve become a much tighter band. It’s the first time we’ve had the same members for two albums in a row, plus we’ve had the benefit of relentless touring. I think those two factors have really come together to make us sound and write better.” During the interlude between Absolutely and Real World came another event which drew the band in. Roberts underwent a throat surgery which required months of vocal cord rehabilitation. “My surgery made us all aware of how close we came to losing it all. Our determination to succeed is even stronger than before,” he reflects.

Among the 12 rollicking tracks on the album (all of which were composed or arranged by the Young Dubliners), “Touch The Sky” stands out as a potent rock hit, with its killer hook and positive lyrics. “I’ve noticed recently that I can’t write a song about how miserable life is without supplying some silver lining,” Roberts says, laughing. “OK” and “Waxie’s Dargle” have already proven to be live favorites, while “Evermore” takes on a very personal spin. “It is one of my favorites and means a lot to me as I wrote the song for my son,” says Roberts. All in all, each of the tracks witnessed a collaborative effort by each of the members, allowing for the album’s cohesive and rock-solid sound. The album, however, does boast a number of guest players. Ian Anderson – a cohort gained from the band’s Jethro Tull touring days – joins the group on “Banshee” and Eric Rigler (Titanic / Braveheart) provides Uileann Pipe on a number of tracks. Roberts also singles out the record’s producer, Tim Boland, for the album’s superior production.

Musing about the band’s sound, Roberts sums up the Young Dubliner’s approach to their music, be it Celtic, Irish, or just plain rock. “I like to think that our take on songwriting and performance makes the Young Dubliner’s sound unique and original. Our band is made up of Irish and American natives who draw influences from just about everywhere. Our strength is in the sum of our parts. We play as a band, as one.”



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

EarthTalk: Getting Kids Into Environmental Activism

Dear EarthTalk: Do you have any tips for helping me get my kids involved in environmental protection advocacy?   – J.B.

There’s no time like the present to teach kids to respect their environment and be willing to stand up to protect it. Of course, any good environmental education starts at home: parents should always keep in mind that they are role models for their kids, and should act responsibly. And most schools today incorporate issues of sustainability into their curricula. But kids who want to do more can sync up with one of any number of nonprofits focused on getting young people involved with volunteering and advocacy on behalf of the environment.

 

One of the best places to start is Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!), a nonprofit that runs a national speakers’ and workshop tour around the U.S. and beyond as well as summer camps devoted to teaching kids how to take action on behalf of the environment. The group also runs JAMs, bringing together “young changemakers” from local communities to brainstorm ideas for solutions to local, national and international environmental problems. The YES! website features information on a wide range of environmental topics as well as videos focusing on organizing and coalition building around shared environmental goals.

 

Another great resource is the Center for Biological Diversity’s Generation Wild program, designed to help kids learn about and help protect local wildlife. The program’s website offers kids tips on things like how to write an effective and compelling “letter to the editor” for publication in a local newspaper, creating a backyard wildlife sanctuary, encouraging teachers and schools to undertake projects that help local wildlife, and spreading the word via social media.

 

Meanwhile, Earthforce, Inc. helps kids ages 10-14 develop citizenship skills and address both local and national environmental problems. Participants get hands-on, real-world opportunities to learn about the issues and develop skills that can help them become lifelong leaders in addressing them. Another leading youth environmental group is Tree Musketeers, which empowers kids to use innovative approaches in launching their own environmental campaigns where they live. Through its Young Executive program, the group provides resources to help kids learn the practical, logistical and personal skills to lead environmental actions and spread the word about the need to live more sustainable lifestyles.

 

Yet another nonprofit vehicle that helps kids get active is SustainUS, which focuses on sustainable development. Its Agents of Change program sends youth delegations to United Nations conferences on climate change, sustainable development, women’s issues and biological diversity—and its Lead Now Fellowship trains and supports young people in becoming leaders in advancing sustainable development.

 

Last but not least, TakingItGlobal is an international network of young people working to tackle global environmental challenges. Its Digital Youth Engagement, Global Education and Social Innovation programs focus on creating the next generation of environmental leaders around the world.

 

Young people can also get involved in environmental protection efforts right in their own backyards even without the support of a non-profit. Examples include organizing a local e-waste recycling drive, asking schools and businesses in the area to refrain from using noxious chemicals for landscaping, and coordinating carpools to reduce traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, kids can learn a lot by finding a local green group and volunteering to help canvass for funds, clean-up a beach or waterway, or lobby local officials to take sustainability into account. Indeed, our common future may well depend on it.

 

 

CONTACTS: YES!, www.yesworld.org; Generation Wild, www.biologicaldiversity.org/youth; Earthforce, www.earthforce.org; Tree Musketeers, www.treemusketeers.org; SustainUS, www.sustainus.org; TakingItGlobal, www.tigweb.org.

 

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 

 

 



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Dec 13,2014: Coolio, Suspect and more

Free: See How You’re Listed

On Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, AmericanTowns and 25 other directories!



Manhattan Beach California Area Articles

Article source: http://www.americantowns.com/ct/weston/news/earth-talk-saving-our-soils-and-climate-with-biochar-21389206

Posted in Manhattan Beach News Articles | Tagged , , , | Comments Off