Chelsea Green Publishing

The Biochar Debate

eBook: 9781603582742
Pub. Date January 21, 2010

The Biochar Debate

Charcoal's Potential to Reverse Climate Change and Build Soil Fertility

By James Bruges
Illustrated by David Friese-Greene

Availability: In Stock

eBook

Available Date:
January 21, 2010

$14.95 $11.96

The Biochar Debate is the first book to introduce both the promise and concerns surrounding biochar (fine-grained charcoal used as a soil supplement) to nonspecialists. Charcoal making is an ancient technology. Recent discoveries suggest it may have a surprising role to play in combating global warming. This is because creating and burying biochar removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Furthermore, adding biochar to soil can increase the yield of food crops and the ability of soil to retain moisture, reducing need for synthetic fertilizers and demands on scarce fresh-water supplies.

While explaining the excitement of biochar proponents, Bruges also gives voice to critics who argue that opening biochar production and use to global carbon-credit trading schemes could have disastrous outcomes, especially for the world's poorest people. The solution, Bruges explains, is to promote biochar through an alternative approach called the Carbon Maintenance Fee that avoids the dangers. This would establish positive incentives for businesses, farmers, and individuals to responsibly adopt biochar without threatening poor communities with displacement by foreign investors seeking to profit through seizure of cheap land.

The Biochar Debate covers the essential issues from experimental and scientific aspects of biochar in the context of global warming to fairness and efficiency in the global economy to negotiations for the future of the Kyoto Protocol.



REVIEWS AND PRAISE

"A brilliant synthesis for everyone concerned with solutions to climate change, enhancement of our soils and the future of energy policy. An enjoyably readable introduction to the vital field of biochar. Highly recommended."--Hunter Lovins, founder and President, Natural Capitalism Solutions; cofounder, Rocky Mountain Institute; and co-author of Natural Capitalism

"Our planet is in an existential crisis. While scientists fret and economists debate, politicians dither and business leaders derail. There is a disconnect between physical reality and political reality. And yet, the physical one always trumps; did we imagine it otherwise? James Bruges has got this right. Biochar offers us a last chance to cheat death, but we'll only be given one try. Fail and our epitaph will be a hard black layer writ in the strata: Here Lies the Human Experiment, R.I.P."--Albert Bates, author of The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook and founder of Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology

"A brilliant, readable review on the critical need to restore our degraded lands back to fertility-be it to sequester greenhouse gases naturally, support forests, improve soil moisture or increase crop yields. Bruges outlines how supporting natural terrestrial sequestration is the cost-effective, proven practice to extract carbon from the atmosphere, and that this can be augmented via the use of soil amendments such as biochar. He concludes with examples that elucidate why tying biochar-based land-management solutions to one-size-fits-all market incentives risks time, money and public health. Our students say, 'It's a 101 must read'-a strong recommendation, indeed."--Alison Burchell, Geologist, Natural Terrestrial Solutions Group

"The Biochar Debate is an intelligent and even-handed look at the potential for both improving soil and addressing global warming offered by the decentralized production and use of biochar. The potential pitfalls and unknowns are clearly acknowledged--this is not another faddish silver bullet approach, but offers some real world examples and practical ideas that anyone can use."--Grace Gershuny, author of The Soul of Soil

"The buzz of interest and activity around biochar in recent years is accelerating. In this concise but engaging book, James Bruges gets us up to speed with the ecology, economics and politics of biochar. Over three decades of speaking about and teaching permaculture, I have come across very few sustainable 'technologies' that appear to change the rules about how to work with nature. Biochar is one of those few. Could biochar be the simple solution by which we can save civilization from the twin crises of resource depletion and climate catastrophe? This sounds like an absurd claim, but not one that can be easily dismissed. James Bruges steers a course between the hope and the hype."--David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept and author of Future Scenarios

"Biochar is a relatively new word in the green lexicon, but one you'll hear more about going forward. It isn't a silver bullet, but it may be a useful help in the climate challenge--this slim book will let you think knowledgeably about it, and start to act in your own backyard."--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"It's not enough to stop burning fossil fuels. We also have to remove much of the carbon dioxide that has accumulated in the atmosphere for over a century. Biochar is one of the few tools available for that purpose. If you don't know what biochar is, this book tells you what you need to know."--Peter Barnes, author of Climate Solutions and Capitalism 3.0

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Bruges

James Bruges worked as an architect in London, Sudan, and India until 1995 when he retired in order to write about economic and environmental issues. He is the author of Sustainability and the Bristol Urban Village Initiative, The Little Earth Book, and The Big Earth Book, and was a contributor to What About China? His work has also appeared in Resurgence, The Friend, and The Ecologist. He was raised in Kashmir until the age of twelve and now lives with his wife, Marion, in Bristol, England.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Mad Sheep

Mad Sheep

By Linda Faillace

In the mid-1990s Linda and Larry Faillace had a dream: they wanted to breed sheep and make cheese on their Vermont farm. They did the research, worked hard, followed the rules, and, after years of preparation and patience, built a successful, entrepreneurial business.
But just like that, their dream turned into a nightmare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told them that the sheep they imported from Europe (with the USDA's seal of approval) carried a disease similar to the dreaded BSE or "mad cow disease." After months of surveillance--which included USDA agents spying from nearby mountaintops and comically hiding behind bushes--armed federal agents seized their flock. The animals were destroyed, the Faillace's lives turned upside down, all so that the USDA could show the U.S. meat industries that they were protecting America from mad cow disease--and by extension, easing fears among an increasingly wary population of meat-eaters.

Mad Sheep is the account of one family's struggle against a bullying and corrupt government agency that long ago abandoned the family farmer to serve the needs of corporate agriculture and the industrialization of our food supply. Similar to the national best-selling book, A Civil Action, readers will cheer on this courageous family in its fight for justice in the face of politics as usual and the implacable bureaucracy of the farm industry in Washington, DC.

Available in: eBook

Read More

Mad Sheep

Linda Faillace, Ronnie Cummins

eBook $17.95

The Small-Scale Cheese Business

The Small-Scale Cheese Business

By Gianaclis Caldwell

There has never been a better time to be making and selling great cheese. People worldwide are consuming more high-quality, handmade cheese than ever before. The number of artisan cheesemakers has doubled in recent years, and many of the industry’s newcomers are “farmstead” producers–those who work only with the milk of their own animals. Today, more than ever before, the people who choose to become farmer-cheesemakers need access to the knowledge of established cheese artisans who can help them build their dream.

Few career choices lead to such extremes of labor, emotion, and monetary challenge. In The Small-Scale Cheese Business (originally published in 2010 as The Farmstead Creamery Advisor), respected cheesemaker, instructor, and speaker Gianaclis Caldwell walks would-be producers through the many, and often confusing, steps and decisions they will face when considering a career in this burgeoning cottage industry. This book fills the gap that exists between the pasture and cheese plate. It goes far beyond issues of caring for livestock and basic cheesemaking, explaining business issues such as:

    * Analyzing your suitability for the career;
    * Designing and building the cheese facility;
    * Sizing up the market;
    * Negotiating day-to-day obstacles;
    * Ensuring maximum safety and efficiency.

Drawing from her own and other cheesemakers’ experiences, Caldwell brings to life the story of creating a successful cheesemaking business in a practical, organized manner. Absolutely essential for anyone interested in becoming a licensed artisan cheesemaker, The Small-Scale Cheese Business will also appeal to the many small and hobby-farm owners who already have milking animals and who wish to improve their home dairy practices and facilities.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Small-Scale Cheese Business

Gianaclis Caldwell

Paperback $34.95

The Holistic Orchard (Book & DVD Bundle)

The Holistic Orchard (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Michael Phillips

Every farm and homestead can enjoy the timeless pleasure of a fruit orchard. Yet this can also be challenging, because few people today have the depth of knowledge and experience that’s needed to produce healthy trees and nutritious, great-tasting fruit. At the same time, both orchardists and consumers are looking to avoid spraying harmful and expensive chemicals on their trees.

The answer is to create a more holistic orchard, one that emphasizes biological health and diversity – from the microscopic fungi in the soil to the beneficial insects, companion plants, and the birds and wildlife that together form a complete and living orchard ecosystem. In other words, it’s time for us to start working with nature, rather than fighting against it.

Michael Phillips is a pioneering author and orchardist whose books include The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower. In this book & DVD bundle you'll get Phillips's award-winning book The Holistic Orchard, which offers step-by-step information on all aspects of total orchard health, plus detailed growing information on fruit tree and berry species. You'll also get the DVD Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips, which shows Phillips's techniques at work in his own orchard.

About the Book:

The Holistic Orchard demystifies the basic skills everybody should know about the inner-workings of the orchard ecosystem, as well as orchard design, soil biology, and organic health management. Detailed insights on grafting, planting, pruning, and choosing the right varieties for your climate are also included, along with a step-by-step instructional calendar to guide growers through the entire orchard year. The extensive profiles of pome fruits (apples, pears, asian pears, quinces), stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums), and berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, and elderberries) will quickly have you savoring the prospects.

Phillips completely changed the conversation about healthy orcharding with his first bestselling book, The Apple Grower, and now he takes that dialogue even further, drawing connections between home orcharding and permaculture; the importance of native pollinators; the world of understory plantings with shade-tolerant berry bushes and other insectary plants; detailed information on cover crops and biodiversity; and the newest research on safe, homegrown solutions to pest and disease challenges.

About the DVD:

Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips leads viewers through a year in his own orchard, demonstrating basic horticultural skills like grafting and pruning, but also revealing groundbreaking and field-tested strategies for growing apples and other tree fruits not just organically, but holistically.

Available in: Mixed media product

Read More

The Holistic Orchard (Book & DVD Bundle)

Michael Phillips

Mixed media product $79.95

The Organic Gardeners Handbook

The Organic Gardeners Handbook

By Frank Tozer

The Organic Gardeners Handbook tells you everything you need to know to create a highly productive vegetable garden. Combining European tradition with American creativity, it covers the art and science of organic gardening with a depth that is rarely seen in contemporary books. There are chapters on every aspect of organic vegetable gardening, soil dynamics, soil management, cultivation, composting, crop planning, raising seedlings, watering, harvesting, seed saving, greenhouses, and much more. Whether you are a complete novice and need your hand held through every step, or a veteran gardener with a permanent layer of soil under your fingernails, you will find this book both helpful and informative. A book that will soon be covered in dirty fingerprints, The Organic Gardeners Handbook is a companion to The Vegetable Growers Handbook.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Organic Gardeners Handbook

Frank Tozer

Paperback $24.95