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Global Warming: The Biochar Solution

Global Warming: The Biochar Solution

The Ode team that is distributing our special issue with solutions to global warming in Copenhagen (you can get a free digital copy of this issue here) ran into an old friend– Thomas Harrtung, who was recently named by Time magazine “hero of the environment.” We featured Thomas Harttung in our November 2008 issue. Harttung established an organic produce delivery service in Denmark that now has 45,000 members (about 1 percent of the Danish population) and annual revenues of about 55 million dollars.

Harttung had come to Copenhagen for various meeting around the current UN Climate Conference. He has an interesting story about a solution to global warming. His new solution is, in fact, a very old one: biochar. Biochar is a charcoal-like product made from organic waste. It has been used for thousands of years to create rich, fertile soils in the Amazon by the natives there.

“Terra Preta de Indio” or black earth of the Indians in Portuguese, was made by the Pre-Columbian Indians. They produced it by setting fire to organic waste, then piling earth on top of it and allowing it to smolder. Today, the biochar that they created is still in the earth. Evidence from soil samples in the Amazon shows large concentrations of biochar remaining after they were abandoned thousands of years ago. Moreover the tests show that the biochar has retained its ability to store nutrients and water.

The great thing about biochar is that it is good for both the soil and the climate: it fertilizes the soil and it captures carbon. In fact, it is probably the best method for carbon sequestration. A common estimate is that the CO2 that is captured is stored for centuries. Furthermore: biochar can be created from different sources of organic waste, so it can practically be made everywhere.

Thomas Harttung is producing biochar on his organic farm and he had come to Copenhagen to tell the story about this successful global warming solution. There is an International Biochar Initiative. Harttung’s story about the modern promise of ancient biochar is just one more example of the solutions that are available to fight global warming and clean up the planet. Whatever challenge global warming poses, there is really no lack of solutions.

Jurriaan Kamp is Editor-in-Chief of Ode Magazine. A free copy of Odes special Copenhagen issue is available here.

Global Warming is a big topic, the Climate Change Conference is a big event, and there are many points of view on both: Be sure to check out Care2s daily coverage of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference which is taking place now at Bella Center in Copenhagen.

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Jurriaan Kamp

The Intelligent Optimist is a community centered around a magazine, a website and online events and courses. We focus on the people, passion and possibilities changing our world for the better.


+ add your own
4:27AM PST on Jan 31, 2014

thank you

11:06AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Thank you.

11:04AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Thank you.

3:45PM PST on Jan 11, 2012

I'm for anything and everything that will help! Thanks!

1:08PM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Thank you for sharing!

2:23PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

Very interesting. Thanks.

1:10AM PDT on Apr 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:50AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

Thanks for the info.

2:58PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

You want to know all the secrets about biochar
This book will help
Here practice and theory merge under a single cover of "The Biochar Revolution " and reveals hidden secrets of science called Biochar

2:57PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

You want to know all the secrets about biochar
This book will help
Here practice and theory merge under a single cover of "The Biochar Revolution " and reveals hidden secrets of science called Biochar

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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