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Forest waste emits 8 times more CO2 than burning fossil fuels. Carbonize the waste to prevent more CO2 emissions than humans create.


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Summary

Climate mitigation advocates generally agree that excessive CO2 in the air has been caused primarily by burning fossil fuels. Most of the mitigation strategies are, therefore, aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels. However, fossil fuel emissions represent less than 10% of the total CO2 emissions each year. Forests are the primary source of CO2 emissions as part of the normal carbon cycle. Our primary global strategy, therefore, needs to be prevention of CO2 by carbonizing forest waste before it emits CO2. No other strategy seems to reduce CO2 at sufficient scale to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

The modern use of biochar is about 10 years old. It has primarily been used for improving agriculture soil, the ancient use. It has also been viewed as a secondary product from making biomass fuel. This project is unique in that it is designed primarily to avoid catastrophic climate change. Forest managers will pursue the effort to reduce the danger of out-of-control wildfires. Farmers will pursue it to reduce costs from fertilizers and irrigation and to improve degraded soils. 

Before 10,000 years ago, the climate was so unstable that agriculture was very difficult. Then a beautiful, delicate balance occurred: The polar caps, ocean currents, greenhouse gases, volcanic activity, and other factors became just right for stable temperatures. Agriculture flourished. The amount of carbon dioxide going into the air (over 300 gigatons per year) was countered by natural sinks that pulled an equal amount of carbon dioxide out of the air. The primary cause of carbon dioxide going into the air was decaying vegetation. The primary sinks pulling carbon dioxide out of the air were the oceans, growing vegetation (mostly trees and grass), and soil bacteria. All was well.

Then we had the industrial revolution. We now have over 40% more carbon dioxide in the air than we had just 150 years ago. The change is too far progressed to repair it by simply reducing the use of fossil fuels. The most effective way we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is to significantly reduce the primary source of CO2 emissions, forest waste. We can prevent a significant amount of these forest CO2 emissions by carbonizing forest waste. To carbonize it is to heat it to 500 degrees Centigrade, without oxygen.

The Biochar Program will demonstrate that carbonizing forest waste and then planting the char, "biochar," in farming soil is a powerful method to mitigate climate change.

 Three tons of dry forest waste can produce one ton of biochar. Seven to 10 tons per acre of biochar can restore degraded farming soil. Carbonizing one ton of organic forest waste prevents the emission of 3.67 tons of CO2 into the air. Biochar can also reduce the need for irrigation and fertilizers by up to 25%. “One percent of organic matter [biochar] in the top six inches of soil can hold about 27,000 gallons of water per acre.”http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/sd/home/?cid=stelprdb108877

The Biochar Program will plant sufficient biochar to prevent 2 billion tons of biomass from emitting 7.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air to "neutralize" the human contribution of CO2. This comprehensive approach will help bring the level of CO2 in the air back to pre-industrial levels.

This biochar approach is being designed in the Pacific Northwest of the United States by a coalition that consists of U.S. Forest Service personnel, a university, NRCS staff, biochar specialists, soil specialists, a climate change specialist, farmers, and a soil and water district (state organization).

 The primary method to disseminate this approach in the U.S. and globally will be through forestry managers. This approach will allow them to dispose of the massive amounts of waste they need to dispose of to prevent huge wildfires. Farmers will buy the biochar made from forest waste to improve the productivity of their soils and to reduce costs for fertilizers and irrigation. 


Which plan do you select for China?

Cooling Climate Change in China!

Which plan do you select for India?

Seed Proposal: Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project in India

Which plan do you select for the United States?

Rebuild America: Increase federal revenue, 4 million jobs and 10% GDP growth

Which plan do you select for Europe?

Europe's Integrated Climate Action Plan

Which plan do you select for other developing countries?

PYROLYSIS OF WASTE AS A RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE IN RURAL AREAS

Which plan do you select for other developed countries?

Cooling Climate Change in Developed Countries!

What additional cross-regional proposals are included in your plan, if any?

A Biochar Solution for Climate Change is, in essence, a cross-regional proposal and can be used in concert with the regional proposals selected. For example, the "cloud whitening" proposal for China could easily be combined with the Biochar Solution. The "cloud whitening" proposal may have difficulty getting funded at first because the benefits will be global rather than local and the costs will not go down (necessarily) over time. The Biochar Solution will have local benefits at the same time as global benefits. In addition, costs will go down as scale goes up and benefits to farmers are realized and valued.


How do the regional and cross-sectoral plans above fit together?

The plan chosen for "developing regions" is similar to the A Biochar Solution for Climate Change plan but uses a low technology method to carbonize waste. The other plans selected can also supplement the Biochar plan; the Biochar plan can be used in all regions.


Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab

The Biochar Program will plant sufficient biochar to prevent 2 billion tons of biomass from emitting 7.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air to "neutralize" the human contribution of CO2. This comprehensive approach will help bring the level of CO2 in the air back to pre-industrial levels. The impact of implementing the Biochar Program globally can be many times the impact of all of the other strategies combined because the Biochar Plan addresses how to organize, implement, and pay for reducing the primary (90%) source of CO2 on earth.


What are the plan’s key benefits?

Forests have huge amounts of decaying vegetation. The vegetation is a primary source of CO2 emissions. The vegetation has no current economic value and is an extreme risk for causing damaging forest wildfires.  Most of it needs to be carbonized and used as an amendment to improve soil productivity and moisture retention.

Carbonizing the forest waste will: reduce massive amounts of CO2 in the air, possibly reducing the total CO2 in the air; provide a powerful soil amendment (biochar) for farmers; reduce pollution runoff into streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans; improve water retention in soils; reduce fertilizer demands for farmers.

 


What are the plan’s costs?

A high-volume carbonizer can provide biochar for $400/ton and process 6 tons per hour. Stewardship funds set aside by logging companies can help pay for carbonizing and reduce costs for farmers. Federal and state funds will be needed to reduce the cost to farmers to $30 - $60/ton in the United States.

For developing countries, small, low-volume carbonizers will be used and costs can be nominal if the feedstock is forest waste; mostly funds will be needed for labor and these funds can come from payments by farmers for biochar. If pyramid log carbonizers are used, no equipment may be needed. Food waste can also be carbonized to reduce CO2 emissions. 


What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?

Key challenges include:

Most do not know that most of the CO2 in the air comes from forests and, therefore, improving carbon sequestration of forests is essential.

Large-scale reduction of CO2 by carbonizing forest residue requires the advocacy and coordination of forestry, logging companies, farmers, biochar specialists, companies producing biochar, and federal, state, and local soil and water organizations. As a starting point, we found that forestry does not have a budget for removing waste, only for fighting fires. Removing waste can be costly; having farmers buy the carbonized waste provides an answer for forestry managers. They just need to know that it has been done and they too can do it. Farmers need to know that the biochar is available and be informed about what biochar can do for them. Forestry managers can usually work with universities and agriculture extension or research agencies to promote the biochar solution to farmers.

Media campaigns are needed to inform the public about the need for carbonizing forest waste. This will help legislators justify larger budgets for forestry to mitigate climate change.

Legislator, local, state, and federal, need to support efforts to carbonize forest waste. Again, this is needed to provide forestry with funds to start such systems and until income from farmers makes the process self-funding or almost self-funding; the goal here is to mitigate climate change so it has at least the same importance as maintaining bridges and roads. 


Timeline

Coalitions have been started in 2015 in three states (Oregon, Washington, and Texas) to begin carbonizing forest waste in 2016 to make biochar for farmers.

In 2016 the plan is to carbonize at least 50,000 tons of forest waste in the three states and Canada.

In 2017 the plan is to carbonize at least 150,000 tons of forest waste in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

In 2018 the plan is to carbonize at least 1 million tons of forest waste in North America, China, South America, and India.

In 2019 the plan is to carbonize 10 million tons of forest waste globally.

In 2020 the plan is to carbonize 100 million tons of forest waste globally.

In 2021 the plan is to carbonize 1 billion tons of forest waste globally.

In 2022 the plan is to carbonize 3 billion tons of forest waste globally.

From 2023 to 2030 the plan is to carbonize at least 3 billion tons of forest waste globally per year and expand the organic waste used to include food and grasslands. This will continue to expand until we reach a goal of reducing the CO2 level to 280 ppm, the pre-industrial level, by 2100.

 


References

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/page4.php

http://globecarboncycle.unh.edu/diagram.shtml

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/news/2013/CO2400.html

http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Science/Catastrophic_Climate_Change/Biomass_and_Biochar/Forest_Waste.html

http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Science/Catastrophic_Climate_Change/Biomass_and_Biochar.html

https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-

http://cdiac.ornl.gov/images/air_bubbles_historical.jpg

http://www.biochar-international.org

http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Science/Ecology/Global_Warming/Consequences_of_Global_Warming.html