Sustaining Future

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Atmospheric Carbon Removal Wanted

It is now commonly agreed that man-made green house effect is causing major climatic disruption to the world. Unfortunately the politicians and big polluters still remain in the stage of denial. As a result, international agreement is still focusing on limiting the green house gas emission to 'the XXXX year level'. According to climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Damon Matthews, it is not going to be enough.

“Most scientific and policy discussions about avoiding climate change have centered on what emissions would be needed to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” says Caldeira. “But stabilizing greenhouse gases does not equate to a stable climate. We studied what emissions would be needed to stabilize climate in the foreseeable future.”

The scientists investigated how much climate changes as a result of each individual emission of carbon dioxide, and found that each increment of emission leads to another increment of warming. So, if we want to avoid additional warming, we need to avoid additional emissions.

With emissions set to zero in the simulations, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere slowly fell as carbon “sinks” such as the oceans and land vegetation absorbed the gas. Surprisingly, however, the model predicted that global temperatures would remain high for at least 500 years after carbon dioxide emissions ceased. [my emphasis]

It is now time to start thinking of taking some of the carbon back from atmosphere, help nature to repair our damages!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Comment to Carbon Negative Energy Source

Reader erich has contributed a very thoughtful comment to a previous post Comment to Carbon Negative Energy Source which I will repost entirely without edit below. Before reading that comment, please also watch is video from

Comment from erich

The best Win Win Win solution is Biochar.

the current news and links on Terra Preta (TP) soils and closed-loop pyrolysis of Biomass, this integrated virtuous cycle could sequester 100s of Billions of tons of carbon to the soils.

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, 1/3 Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too.

UN Climate Change Conference: Biochar present at the Bali Conference

SCIAM Article May 15 07;

After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.

Could you please consider looking for a champion for this orphaned Terra Preta Carbon Soil Technology.

The main hurtle now is to change the current perspective held that the soil carbon cycle is a wash, to one in which soil can be used as a massive and ubiquitous Carbon sink via Charcoal Below are the first concrete steps in that direction;

S.1884 The Salazar Harvesting Energy Act of 2007

A Summary of Biochar Provisions in S.1884:

Carbon-Negative Biomass Energy and Soil Quality Initiative for the 2007 Farm Bill

Bolstering Biomass and Biochar development: In the 2007 Farm Bill, Senator Salazar was able to include $500 million for biomass research and development and for competitive grants to develop the technologies and processes necessary for the commercial production of biofuels and bio-based products. Biomass is an organic material, usually referring to plant matter or animal waste. Using biomass for energy can reduce waste and air pollution. Biochar is a byproduct of producing energy from biomass. As a soil treatment, it enhances the ability of soil to capture and retain carbon dioxide.

There are 24 billion tons of carbon controlled by man in his agriculture and waste stream, all that farm & cellulose waste which is now dumped to rot or digested or combusted and ultimately returned to the atmosphere as GHG should be returned to the Soil.

If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I've been drafted to co-administer.

It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and probably many others who's back round I don't know have joined.

The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) conference held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. The papers from this conference are posted at their home page;

.Nature article, Aug 06: Putting the carbon back Black is the new green:

Here's the Cornell page for an over view:

University of Beyreuth TP Program, Germany

This Earth Science Forum thread on these soils contains further links, and has been viewed by 19,000 self-selected folks. ( I post everything I find on Amazon Dark Soils, ADS here):

Terra Preta creates a terrestrial carbon reef at a microscopic level. These nanoscale structures provide safe haven to the microbes and fungus that facilitate fertile soil creation, while sequestering carbon for many hundred if not thousands of years. The combination of these two forms of sequestration would also increase the growth rate and natural sequestration effort of growing plants.

All the Biochar Companies and equipment manufactures I've found:

Carbon Diversion

Eprida: Sustainable Solutions for Global Concerns

BEST Pyrolysis, Inc. | Slow Pyrolysis - Biomass - Clean Energy - Renewable Energy

Dynamotive Energy Systems | The Evolution of Energy

Ensyn - Environmentally Friendly Energy and Chemicals

Agri-Therm, developing bio oils from agricultural waste

Advanced BioRefinery Inc.

Technology Review: Turning Slash into Cash

3R Environmental Technologies Ltd. (Edward Someus)

The company has Swedish origin and developing/designing medium and large scale carbonization units. The company is the licensor and technology provider to NviroClean Tech Ltd British American organization WEB: and VERTUS Ltd.

Genesis Industries, licensee of Eprida technology, provides carbon-negative EPRIDA energy machines at the same cost as going direct to Eprida. Our technical support staff also provide information to obtain the best use of biochar produced by the machine. Recent research has shown that EPRIDA charcoal (biochar) increases plant productivity as it sequesters carbon in soil, thus reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

If pre-Columbian Kayopo Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 15% of the Amazon basin using "Slash & CHAR" verses "Slash & Burn", it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of energy return over energy input (EROEI) for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.

We need this super community of wee beasties to work in concert with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.

Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
1047 Dave Berry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
(540) 289-9750


Monday, April 14, 2008

Price of Solar Power in Australia

One of my friend just installed a 1kW solar panel on his roof, costing his family AUD12,000 after an Australian government rebate of AUD8000. I think it is not right.

I checked this website which quoted the price of solar panel in US to be around USD3 to USD4.85 per watt. My friend is paying AUD12 per watt (after installation and connection to the grid), i.e. without government rebate, we have to pay around AUD20 per watt which is up to 5 times the price from US.

A note for green business entrepreneur, there is a federal government rebate of AUD8 per watt for up to 1000W. If you can import solar panel into Australia (say from China at around US1.5 per Watt + 10% GST), connection equipment to grid at AUD3000, with the government's rebate, you have about AUD3000 to cover your effort and profit. May be if this is not enough, many home owners would be happy to pay something on top of that too (My friend paid AUD12,000!). My friend told me that it took two men half a day to install his solar panels. Yes, the current funding is capped at AUD150 million. But that should be able to give your business a good start. Contact me when you start your business, I will be your first customer (but don't expect me to pay AUD12000 on top). I do not support greedy enterprises!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Al Gore's new thinking on climate crisis


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ten commandments of eco gardening

from the Sumday Times over a year ago:
  • Thou shalt conserve water

  • Thou shalt put the right plant in the right place
    [my additional suggestion]:Thou shalt only put edible plants in the garden

  • Thou shalt not use peat
    [my additional suggestion]:Thou shalt mulch with locally available available material.

  • Thou shalt recycle garden waste

  • Thou shalt reuse non-biodegradable products
    [my additional suggestion]:Thous shalt use non-biodegradable products for your own as well as your children's and grandchildren's life time.

  • Thou shalt minimise the use of chemicals
    [my additional suggestion]:Everything is chemical. Thou shalt use naturally occuring chemicals from known sources.

  • Thou shalt leave a messy bit
    [my additional suggestion]: and a pond too

  • Thou shalt use hard landscaping with sensitivity
    [my additional suggestion]:Source your landscaping material locally

  • Thou shalt use lighting responsibly

  • Thou shalt teach thy children where food comes from

    [my additional suggestion]:Grow your own food in your own backyard