““Love is in the air, but the air is highly polluted!” ~ Amit Abraham

Burning Season Has Begun

Open field crop burning

All across Asia, farmers are setting fire to their fields to remove unwanted crop residue. Poor mountain people are setting fires in forests to make it easier to collect wild mushrooms highly prized in the global market. The smoke from these combined sources is choking and literally deadly.

Northern Thailand is especially affected by the smoke. Last year Greenpeace’s annual ranking of most polluted cities awarded Chiang Mai the dubious distinction of First Place in Thailand as the most polluted.

Living in a polluted environment

People who live in smoke polluted areas suffer the most.

But it has a global impact, which affects everyone, including you.

Poor farmers release 25 percent of the world’s total of “black carbon”—clouds of smoke that count as the second-largest warming source after CO2—by burning more than 330,000 gigatons of field wastes every year./

Something needs to change!

Biochar Ovens Alternative: Pilot Program in Mae Chaem

Located in Chiang Mai Province, Mae Chaem is a small farming community mainly focused on corn. A large portion of the smoke pollution that hits Chiang Mai every year comes from this district.

With a grant from the Canadian Embassy, Warm Heart worked with local farmers in Mae Chaem to design and test the feasibility of switching from open field burning to a biochar system.

Several large, extended family teams agreed to participate in the program. The teams go from farm to farm helping each other plant their fields; when it is harvest time, they rotate through the farms again to pick. All the corn is then gathered in one place for de-kernelling.

In Mae Chaem alone, 12 de-kernelling stations leave immense mountains of cob and husk totaling almost 10,000 metric tons of waste that is normally burned when the season is done. (Full Story)

Warm Heart is raising consciousness about the issue as well as funds to work towards a solution with their #StopTheSmoke! campaign on Crowdrise.com. The only way they can succeed is if you help make #StopTheSmoke! go viral. Share, share, and donate!

Replenishing our Soils: How Biochar Can Heal the Earth

A recent study shows that humans are not only increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through activities like burning fossil fuels, but also by disrupting the natural production of carbon dioxide.

The study, conducted by University of New Hampshire scientist Serta Frey, shows how rising temperatures resulting from climate change cause soil to release greater amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which further contributes to global warming.

The earth’s soil releases about nine times more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all human activities combined; however, it has a far less damaging impact. During the natural production of carbon dioxide, plants and animals release carbon dioxide while creating energy they need for growth and decomposition. The amount of carbon dioxide produced this way is typically balanced by the amount used. The impact of human activity has begun to upset this balance by increasing ground temperatures and increasing soil carbon dioxide emissions.

One simple and affordable solution to this problem is biochar, a “super charcoal.” Making biochar actually removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which cools the earth, and prevents the creation of greenhouse gasses during open field burning that contributes to global warming. In the soil, biochar absorbs carbon dioxide, reducing the impact of rising temperatures.

Warm Heart has developed a simple and low-cost biochar maker that farmers can use to convert crop wastes into biochar. Materials like branches, dead trees, brush and pinecones can be easily gathered and converted into biochar. In the heat of the biochar ovens, potential greenhouse gases are burned up along with harmful smoke particles that contribute to air pollution.

Farmers can learn how to use the biochar in their fields to increase yields and reduce the need for costly fertilizers, as biochar improves the soil and retains fertilizer that otherwise disappears as runoff. Biochar also binds up pesticides that run off fields into nearby water sources. In addition to its climate benefits, biochar can reduce the environmental impact of farming while cutting farmers’ costs and improving yields.

Though the task of slowing global warming’s damaging effects may seem daunting, solutions like biochar are simple and affordable ways that, when implemented, can put us one step closer to achieving this difficult task.

Coolterra’s 28 day comparison between control group and biochar

2017 Trainings

We invite groups of 10+ to schedule a free training. You will learn how to build a biochar oven, how to use it to make biochar, how to convert the biochar to super fertilizer, and how to take the information back to your community and teach others. Trainings can be set up at our facilities in Phrao, or within an hours drive of Chiang Mai.

We will also come to locations around Chiang Mai to help groups set up a small scale biochar system, as we did for 137 Pillars House

We have one group coming from Malaysia in the middle of February. They will be taking the training back to their community.

Just what can our training accomplish? Watch our video interviewing rice farmers we trained to use biochar, and see the impact it has had on their lives.

For more information about setting up a training session, you can email Aom at kwanpirom@warmheartonline.org, or call the office at (66) 53257205 for more information.

Live a bit far away to consider a training in Thailand? Not to worry, we have lots of training materials online. For example, to learn about the basics of biochar and making biochar fertilizer, you can view several of our PowerPoints online. (Materials are available in English and Thai. Chinese translations are available. Your help with translations into other languages would be appreciated.)

Focus on Biochar

How to Make a Biochar Oven

Making Biochar Fertilizer

You can also watch our 4 DIY training videos to learn how to make your own biochar oven.

We recently did a short training at Hod High School. Once we fire up the biochar ovens, you can see that there is no smoke.

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Environmental News Daily Updates

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

February 28, 2017

Photo credits: whatsupwiththat.com

Air Pollution Is Putting Tiny Particles in Your Brain, and They’re Toxic

By Vlad Mitrache

It’s not like without this piece of news we would have thought air pollution to be good – or at least not harmful -, but it does add a new dimension to the extent of damage it can cause to our bodies.

Previously, it was believed that nocive particles found in the air we breathe were mainly dangerous to our lungs, and it made sense. If your breathers could talk, they’d probably have something pretty nasty to tell you each time you got in the car, while the more educated would stick to “ride a bike, you lazy marshmallow.”

Well, new research published these past days in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences claims – and can prove – that millions of toxic particles can also be found in our brains. The team analyzed brain tissue from 37 people of all ages (between three and 92) living in two of the most polluted metropolis of this world: London and Mexico City.

The scary results showed a very high concentration of magnetite that, researchers said, went as high as a million particles per one gram of tissue. Magnetite is an iron nanoparticle that has been indirectly linked in the past with Alzheimer’s, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.
Full Story

Past Issues

January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016 (First Edition)

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