Why biochar is an optimal degrowth technology.

For an aperitif, refer to George Monbiot's article called 'The Zombie Doctrine' at 'monbiot.com' and Liam McLoughlin's article "Turnbull’s ‘Jobs And Growth’ Mantra Is A Faith, Not A Plan" at 'newmatilda.com' and degrowth.org, Naomi Klein's 'This changes everything' novel and documentary and the Australian Green's Party 'Renew Australia' plan. Can't go wrong with a Diploma of Permaculture too.

Why is it that 'jobs and growth' seem to be inextricably linked by most industrialised economies? I think to myself while the Australian election is coming to a close, why the major parties aren't basing our environmental economic policies in lockstep with the international momentum being built by a variety of environmental and social movements around the world who want a 'just transition'? How difficult is it for central bankers to realise that there is dollar and green credentials abound for a 'just transition' for the world economy towards achieving positive, and broadly speaking, environmental outcomes which will benefit current and future generations? Sounds familiar...like the 1987 Brundtand report which defines sustainability in it's essential mission. Are we waiting for Godzilla with an army of silly monkeys to take over the planet or is it a space invasion, like Mars Attacks where the aliens mantra 'We come in peace' right before you get zapped? Could this be another hippie rant or is there merit in decoupling jobs and growth and starting to look at how everything, apart from the super-rich (who still could benefit with devestment portfolios), will benefit from degrowth job strategies?

Take carbon sequestration for example. We need a lot more of it in order to stabilise the climate system et al. The options on the table for geoengineering are abound - they seem to get sillier, more expensive and more dangerous by the year (refer to 'Snowpiercer' film for an extreme case). The only safe and democratic option, and it's a degrowth one, is clean renewable energy. Of those options, I believe the best one is to harvest biological material (solar-powered via photosynthesis at approximately 3-6% efficiency of total solar radiation but low-tech and almost ubiquitous), usually called biomass, burn it in a controlled environment like a Kon-Tiki or Pyramid kiln, produce extremely stable carbon (biochar, for up to 35,000 years or more - refer to research by Dr Jeffrey Parr for phytoliths) and lock it into a cascade of needs (at least 55 uses and growing) whose byproducts (including biochar) eventually gets added to soil as an amendment to increase it's fertility, increase water holding capacity, adsorb heavy metals, water filtration, reduce plant disease, reduce fertiliser and pesticides and store nutrients and micronutrients as well as minerals and micro-organisms needed for a beneficial and stable soil ecology. When has any Civilisation survived without producing fertile soil? (Try 'Soil not oil' by Vandana Shiva) Biochar can even be integrated into land-based aquaponics systems and wicking beds (once again involves soil, but uses biochar for water filtration in the bottom layer and growing plants in the top layer - no fish protein though, which is produced in aquaponics systems that are more expensive and tricky to manage - but probably more efficient than wicking beds over the long-term).

Why is biochar an optimal degrowth technology? It's all about the democratisation described by Dr Paul Taylor and Hans-Peter Schmidt - refer to Ithaka-institut.org for that one. It's primarily driven by grassroots 'biochar activists' - which include small farmers, gardeners and bored under-employed people like me trying to commercialise it in the growing green capitalism economic sector. The efficient and sustainable harvesting of biomass, the drying of biomass, the tools to process the biomass, the technology used to produce the biochar, the logistics of getting it to where you want it, and the specific application are all limiting factors however achievable within a local economy. Considering all the actual and potential applications for biochar, I would predict that it will be a major plank of future carbohydrate-based economies - it's nanotech so will probably include future electronic circuits and battery storage, supercapacitors etc. Surplus biochar produced can be traded/bartered for other goods and services and there are already platforms to do this such as ripenear.me
Sounds like a 'biochar revolution' (refer to Dr Paul Taylor's book)to me!! Jobs and degrowth anyone...?

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