Pseudoscientific Adventures to Save the Planet

Pseudoscientific Adventures to Save the Planet

Pseudoscientific Adventures to Save the Planet globalmugWe’ve all looked on in amazement as climate change, a new age atrocity to some of us, has been packaged and blamed to be the cause of just about every problem in the world today: terrorism, displacement, murder and poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, back pain, allergies, and even rape. We’re similarity told that just about everything causes it.

It’s completely out of control, moreso now that researches and governments are marching forward as champions dedicated to saving us from it.

For instance, there is joint Indian-German project in the works to pour six tons of iron powder into the waters of the Antarctic, to encourage the absorption of CO2 by phytoplankton.

Speaking to Real World Radio, Oscar Galli, a marine biologist at REDES-FoE Uruguay, points out that it’s a commercial experiment – a pseudo-scientific adventure that “[promotes] the burning of more and more fossil fuels, with the subsequent liberation of CO2 to the atmosphere and global warming, in addition to seriously damaging the marine ecosystems.” In other words, it’s business as usual.

There is a similar experiment using charcoal, that seems to be catching even more attention. The idea is to plough billions of tonnes of charcoal into the world’s soil every year.

“According to a growing, vocal and very well-connected group of scientists, entrepreneurs and lobbyists,” says the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), it is “the best if not the only way of humanity surviving climate change and solving the food and energy crisis.”

“They call charcoal used in this way ‘biochar’ and claim that it will lock up carbon for thousands of years, provide energy through the same process which produces the charcoal, greatly increase plant yields and stop deforestation (caused, according to many of them, mainly by small farmers who slash and burn forests because they cannot keep their soil fertile).”

“The ‘evidence’ for the claims is based primarily on terra preta, ancient soils in Central Amazonia, formed hundreds or even thousands of years ago,” WRM continues. “Terra preta was created by small farmers who, over many generations, mixed charcoal as well as compost, animal and fish bones, river sediments, manure and diverse biomass residues into the soil. There is no evidence that carbon-rich, fertile soils can be recreated simply – or quickly – by applying large quantities of charcoal to fields.”

In fact, there has only been one contemporary study, which revealed that charcoal, when used by itself, “resulted in zero plant growth after two harvests.”

“This is why a lot of the ‘biochar research’ actually involves an ammonium bicarbonate fertiliser, of which char is only one component,” says WRM. “At least during this short-term study, most of the carbon remained in the soil, but other studies indicate that even this is not guaranteed.” Again, business as usual.

If the truth hurts, ignore it

Over all these “fertilization” experiments are no different from every other industrial-age solution to save the planet, or the logically-false paradigm we’ve constructed around the naturally occurring process called climate change.

We, by which I mean civilization, is completely out of touch with the problem – and so it follows, the solution.

The problem is civilzation. The way ‘we’ view ourselves as separate from the natural world; the way we find purpose and meaning with little regard to the consequences; and the we pretend we’re in control and superior to everything.

It might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s like we’re standing the twilight zone, you know, the “middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition” where we travel to hide away from that painful dimension called reality.

Only in such a place can we escape reason so effortlessly, and then rally ourselves in a belief that land theft, wholesale environmental reorganization, and bureaucratic hoopajoo can save the planet…

It’s an endeavor that will continue and intensify as long we cower away from the basic truth.

The Earth is not a sandbox, for us to reign over pathetic Empires of dirt, or to create grand schemes to justify “enlightened” savagery “for the greater good.”

It is our home. Our place of birth that we obligated to protect and defend regardless of our opinions, our fears, and the things we think we want.

We owe a great deal to this planet, and it’s way past time to stop playing games and start acting the way we know we are, the way the Earth needs us to be.



One Response

  1. Biochar Soil Technology…..Husbandry of whole new orders of life

    Biotic Carbon, the carbon transformed by life, should never be combusted, oxidized and destroyed. It deserves more respect, reverence even, and understanding to use it back to the soil where 2/3 of excess atmospheric carbon originally came from.

    We all know we are carbon-centered life, we seldom think about the complex web of recycled bio-carbon which is the true center of life. A cradle to cradle, mutually co-evolved biosphere reaching into every crack and crevice on Earth.

    It’s hard for most to revere microbes and fungus, but from our toes to our gums (onward), their balanced ecology is our health. The greater earth and soils are just as dependent, at much longer time scales. Our farming for over 10,000 years has been responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. This soil carbon, converted to carbon dioxide, Methane & Nitrous oxide began a slow stable warming that now accelerates with burning of fossil fuel.

    Wise Land management; Organic farming and afforestation can build back our soil carbon,

    Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

    Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth, TP), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!
    Modern Pyrolysis of biomass is 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, Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

    Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw, “Feed the Soil Not the Plants” becomes “Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !”. Free Carbon Condominiums, build it and they will come.
    As one microbologist said on the TP list; “Microbes like to sit down when they eat”. By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders of life.

    Senator / Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has done the most to nurse this biofuels system in his Biochar provisions in the 07 & 08 farm bill,

    Charles Mann (“1491”) in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.

    Biochar data base;

    NASA’s Dr. James Hansen Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference, placing Biochar / Land management the central technology for carbon negative energy systems.

    The many new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils; Cornell, ISU, U of H, U of GA, Virginia Tech, JMU, New Zealand and Australia.

    Glomalin’s role in soil tilth, fertility & basis for the soil food web in Terra Preta soils.
    POZNAN, Poland, December 10, 2008 – The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) announces that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has submitted a proposal to include biochar as a mitigation and adaptation technology to be considered in the post-2012-Copenhagen agenda of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A copy of the proposal is posted on the IBI website at
    The International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

    Given the current “Crisis” atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?

    This is a Nano technology for the soil that represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.

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


    Erich J. Knight

    Shenandoah Gardens
    540 289 9750

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