“Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” ~ President Obama
Environmental News Daily 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!)
September 30, 2016
What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian?
By Rachel Nuwer
Eliminating meat from our diets would bring a bounty of benefits to both our own health and the planet’s – but it could also harm millions of people.
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some do it to alleviate animal suffering, others because they want to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Still others are fans of sustainability or wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale.
Winning the Environmental War with Biochar
Mining has always been an environmental nightmare. One of the issues is how the mining process creates acid mine drainage, water that has toxic levels of heavy metals that leaches out and pollutes nearby water sources, depleting freshwater supplies in entire regions surrounding the mines. Contamination of groundwater, streams, and soil is not healthy for plants, animals or humans.
Recent studies and experiments focusing on the adsorbant properties of biochar are showing great promise as a potential solution to help clean up the detrimental impact caused by mining:
“Comparisons of the adsorption capacity of various adsorbents for Pb2+ and Cd2+, showed that this biochar is superior to many other adsorbents in terms of adsorption capacity and it is a cheap, efficient and accessible biochar. Thus, KGMB is a promising candidate for wastewater treatment.”
“Zhao and his colleagues are confident that their pine needle-derived biochar should be able to extract many other organic pollutants, as long as they possess a benzene ring. Even more intriguingly, some recent studies have discovered that biochar derived from different biological materials possesses different physical and chemical properties. This suggests there could be inexpensive biochars available for absorbing a whole range of different analytes. All it would take is a bit of cooking.”
Mining also leaves the land depleted and useless. Biochar can also be used to bring life back to devastated soils:
“The idea is to apply biochar and convert mined-out lands into arable lands that can be planted with renewable cash crops, which then gives livelihood … to the communities especially indigenous peoples,” Marcventures vice chair Isidro Alcantara said.
In the world of agriculture biochar has great potential, and the cost effectiveness is staggering.
Biochar enriched soils retain moisture, reducing the amount of water required. Biochar is a far superior natural fertilizer, eliminating the need for expensive and inadequate commercial fertilizers. which leach into surrounding groundwater. The increase in crop quality and higher yields is yet another financial benefit:
“Biochar, as multiple speakers said during a four-day conference at Oregon State University Aug. 22-25, has shown potential to improve soil pH, retain moisture, sequester carbon, filter water and clean up polluted mining and industrial sites.”
Biochar is not new, it has been around for many centuries. What is new is the burgeoning interest in how we can utilize biochar in many new ways. In other areas scientists are applying biochar properties to produce more affordable supercapacitors:
“Biochar is a cost-effective material is rich in carbon, and has been used by two SDSU engineering researchers to develop the porous surface required to capture electricity. This new technique of developing a porous surface will help to reduce the cost of supercapacitors.”
New products are being developed for consumer consumption, such as organic Biochar cat litter, which capitalizes on the natural water retention and odor absorbing qualities of biochar. Businesses are sprouting up marketing Biochar fertilizers to home gardeners to improve their soils.
So what does all this mean?
As new innovative uses for biochar continues to expand, whether through new scientific applications, in the agricultural field, or for everyday consumer use, the demand for biochar production will grow.
And this is a good thing!
The process of making biochar has a tremendous impact on reducing CO2, a main contributor to global warming and climate change.
Biochar is a win-win proposition. As we move forward in our quest to stem global warming, we predict that biochar will be a major player in our success.
Biochar is carbon negative! Making biochar removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
Biochar has many agricultural
Biochar increases crop yields, sometimes substantially if the soil is in poor condition.
Biochar helps to prevent fertilizer runoff and leaching, allowing the use of less fertilizers and diminishing agricultural pollution to the surrounding environment.
Biochar retains moisture, helping plants through periods of drought more easily.
Biochar replenishes exhausted or marginal soils with organic carbon and fosters the growth of soil microbes essential for nutrient absorption, particularly mycorrhizal fungi.
Most importantly, Biochar technology can replace the practice of burning crops fields, eliminating the pollution while creating a product that will help farmers enrich their soils and increase their crop yields.