Environmental News

December, 2016

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt


Getting Down and Dirty

We need to continue to wean our society away from our dependence on fossil fuels and coal, by developing and using renewable energy systems. Research and development into sustainable sources of energy are making great strides. Solar is becoming more efficient and affordable, wind power is being harnessed, alternative fuels are being explored and developed.

At the same time we also need to focus on regenerating the earth, reverse some of the damage that global warming has caused so far, and bring our climate back to a healthy and sustainable level globally. Part of the solution lies at our feet. The following short video “Soil Solutions to Climate Problems” clearly shows how rejuvenating our soil can have a big impact on Global Warming.

A new study details the surprising economic and environmental benefits of healthy soil.

In his article “Sustaining life from the ground up: The benefits of healthy soil“, Michael Doane, Director, of Transforming Working Lands at The Nature Conservancy states:

“Healthy soil is the foundation of life on Earth. But what is healthy soil? The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines it as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. The key word: living.

A mixture of air, water, minerals, and organic matter, soil is both living and life-giving. It’s one of the most diverse habitats on earth, supporting an estimated quarter of the world’s biological diversity. There are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the Earth! We depend on healthy, fertile soil to grow our food—an estimated 95 percent of the world’s food supply. Soil is also essential for filtering pollutants from our water and reducing the impact of climate change by storing carbon dioxide emissions.

Healthy soil provides unrivaled ecosystem services that sustain all forms of life, yet these soils are increasingly rare. While official measures are lacking, The Nature Conservancy estimates less than 10 percent of soils in the United States are managed optimally today. Healthier soils unlock so many benefits that we must reverse this trend. As the global population continues to grow and farmers endeavor to meet the consumer demands to produce more food, fuel and fiber, now is the time to reThink Soil.” (Full Article)


Biochar is emerging as a star player in healing our earth.

Tim McGee writes in his article Biochar Offers Answer for Healthy Soil and Carbon Sequestration:

“Deep, rich, black soil is a farmer’s dream come true. Healthy soil is full of life, with entire communities living just below our feet. Healthy soil can retain and purify water, provide an abundance of food, and even act as way to sequester carbon dioxide. One key to getting there is amending soil with biochar. Biochar is what you get when biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen through a process called pyrolysis. When incorporated into soil, biochar provides the structural habitat needed for a rich community of micro-organisms to take hold. Incorporating biochar into soil can also act as a way to sequester carbon.

Carbon dioxide sequestration was not likely the original goal of biochar, or terra preta, developed thousands of years ago by the Native Americans in the Amazon region. But today, as we recognize the cost of emitting greenhouse gases, we also recognize the wisdom of using biochar as micro-habitat to improve our soils. Biochar is a classic win-win scenario, a solution that can provide us with a valuable tool for fighting climate change, world hunger, poverty, and energy shortages all at the same time.” (Full Article)

News from Norway: Biochar, the “bio gold” of agriculture?
Foto: Pia Otte

Foto: Pia Otte

The government has set a goal for greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture to be reduced by 40 percent within 2030. In order to achieve this, far more effective measures are needed than what has been proposed so far. To bind carbon through the production of biochar is an initiative with great potential. It also has other, equally interesting benefits to that of the potential greenhouse effect.

In the interdisciplinary project Capture plus, led by SINTEF and financed by the Norwegian Research Council, we are studying the opportunities for implementing sustainable biochar systems in Norway. A national survey has revealed that Norwegian farmers have limited knowledge about the effects and benefits of the production and use of biochar. Eight out of ten farmers have little or no knowledge of biochar as a climate mitigation measure or soil improver, but one in three thinks it is a good action when they are offered an explanation. Seven out of ten say they want more knowledge. Additional benefits such as increased effect of chemical fertilizers and potentially increased harvests are highlighted as particularly interesting.

Key sources for biochar

    • Agriculture – Open field crop burning is a contributing factor to air pollution and global warming. Removing crop residue through Biochar technology not only eliminates the pollution, it also provides a valuable end product that enriches our soils.


    • Waste Management – Innovative Reduction Strategies Inc is an industrial equipment designer and fabricator operating out of Edmonton, Alberta. IRSI‘s mission is to reduce waste streams through the scalable application of pyrolysis technologies for the waste management industry.


  • Cook Stoves – A great way to cook smoke free while creating biochar. Watch the video to see how successful the program is in Costa Rica. It can be done anywhere.


Cebu City, Philippines: Farmers learn to make ‘biochar’ ‘tech

Cebu City has established a program to use biochar technology to divert the 40 to 60 tons of waste generated at the Carbon Public Market daily. Around 100 farmers and leaders were trained by the City Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 recently on biochar technology.

Farmers are encouraged to use biochar ovens for their waste disposal rather than dumping it at the Carbon Public Market. Farmers are also encouraged to use the biochar to improve their soils. In turn, the city will purchase the excess biochar from the farmers. The city will use the Biochar as cover material to address the smell at the landfill. It will also help trap and remove the methane gas.

Results of our survey

With our “unscientific” survey, we were just trying to get a feel for what people are experiencing in their part of the world. This is a very small scale sample, but does tell a bit of a story.


On which continent do you live in?


Has your community experienced any of the following?

Flooding and hotter weather are the most notable experiences.


Are you involved in any of the following activities?

It is encouraging to see that people are discussing climate change, and supporting local environmental groups.


Who do you believe can help stop global warming?

Almost unanimous that the responsibility is equally shared.


On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how concerned are you about climate change and global warming?


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Our thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

Daily News Updates

We are all about sharing information. We add a new link to related articles on a daily basis. To see a recap of this month’s articles visit our Daily Updates Archive. (Worth a read!)

December 31, 2016

 (Michael Dwyer/AP)

(Michael Dwyer/AP)

It wasn’t entirely bad news. Here are five positive environmental stories from 2016.

By Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney

When it comes to the environment, 2016 brought a steady stream of grim news.

The year will almost certainly hold the prize for the hottest in recorded history, eclipsing the records set in 2015 and 2014. Researchers tracked how Antarctic ice sheets continue to melt and how the Arctic continues to warm. Coral reefs are dying. Air and water problems keep surfacing around the globe. Some scientists are predicting that sea levels will rise even more than expected in coming decades, while others are linking extreme weather events to the changing climate and detailing how environmental and climatic factors are fueling the spread of Zika and other devastating diseases.

Full Story

Read Now
Read Now

Environmental Progress News

Climate change and global warming can be reversed. A gloom and doom attitude does not bring about change. What we need are solutions to fix the problem.

The focus of our Newsletter is on current positive steps that are being taken around the world. Our goal is to inform and share resources.

We encourage article submissions that focus on what is working.

Articles can be submitted to Environmental Progress News

Sign the Petition

Let’s encourage these climate champions to lead!

From left to right: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, California Governor Jerry Brown, Google CEO Sundar Pichai

From left to right: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, California Governor Jerry Brown, Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Just imagine what a powerful signal it would be if US cities, states and firms unleash this unprecedented climate revolution from below!

It’s going to demand courage and coordination from the leaders of California, New York and Google to step up in the face of Trump’s presidency.

Let’s send them all our encouragement to be champions with thousands of inspiring messages from all over the world. Send a message on the right — the more personal your message, the more impact it will have. Avaaz will deliver them directly to the leaders.

Then use the buttons below to share this campaign — let’s get one million global voices to these US climate heroes to save us from Trump!

Sign the petition now!

Past Issues

November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016 (First Edition)

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Biochar News

Check out what has been developing at Warm Heart Environmental Project

The Warm Heart FC Trough

The Warm Heart team has been developing a new type of flame cap / flame curtain (FC) biochar production unit. These are FC Trough units, which are defined as above ground FC units with a non-square, rectangular top aspect.

The general design was developed as a result of considering the easiest low tech way to pyrolyze a great variety of the feedstock types available to the small holders in developing countries, that is, with a minimum amount of processing &/or transportation of the feedstock beyond the initial harvesting. Read More

Biochar Production Oven Specs

Request free plans, or buy a pre-made oven. 3 models available

200L. (55 gallon) Natural Draft TLUD Biochar
200L. Trough Oven
500L. Trough Oven

Read More

Be a Part of the Solution - Get Involved Locally

environmental organizations

There are many environmental organizations around the world that offer a way for you to get involved.

350.org is building a global climate movement. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries.

environemental action

Through research and outreach that inspire action, the Worldwatch Institute works to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs. The Institute’s top mission objectives are universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing.

environmental progress news

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.

Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities, and corporate accountability. We work for solutions that protect both the Earth’s resources and our communities.

environmental news

Dr. Michael Shafer offers a concrete plan of action you can take within your own community. Discover how you can help make a difference.

Can your town save the earth?