Cool the Climate PDF is a 5 part series of articles released by Dr. D. Michael Shafer. Originally released on Linkdin, and shared on Facebook, we have complied all 5 articles into the Cool the Climate PDF.

Cool The Climate PDF Contents

Part 1: The Ubiquity of Corn

Part 2: Why Care that Corn Crop Waste Burns Dirty?

Part 3: Biochar Social Enterprise – A Solution?

Part 4: Establishing a Market for Biochar

Part 5: The Case for Small-Scale Biochar


This five part series addresses a large, unknown threat to the global climate and the health of billions of people: smoke from small farmers in the developing world burning billions of tonnes of crop waste annually.

Rather than taking on this huge topic in the abstract, I want to focus on a single, well-known crop, corn, and the poor families that farm it. Important in its own right, corn is a leading example of a crop that has succeeded commercially in global agricultural commodity markets. It is an exemplar of the commodity crop grown locally for consumption globally, specifically, as feed for animals raised for global meat markets.

In brief, Cool the Climate series does the following.

Part 1 I establish how much corn is grown in the developing world and how much corn crop waste remains to burn.

In Part 2 answers the question that, unless answered compellingly, results in articles like this being filed under “interesting” – forever: why should anyone care?

Part 3 then does what few articles do: it offers a practical, low-cost, cost-effective, replicable and sustainable – even profitable – solution.

In Part 4, I discuss market issues because my solution builds on a social enterprise business model, not the usual charity model that dominates discussions of climate change, the environment and public health. The market, I argue, is where the problems and the potential confront those interested in cooling the climate, cleaning the environment, improving public health and reducing rural poverty by cutting crop waste burning in the developing world.

Part 5 makes the case for small-scale biochar as the only means available to address these problems where they arise – and where the need lies – in the fields of individual, small farmers.

Authors of all ideological stripes have written about many of the issues raised by the global expansion of corn production. Some discuss corn as the show-child of how globalization either drives food insecurity or renders the concept meaningless. Others contend that large-scale mono-cropping is inevitably disastrous or that the threat is misconstrued. Some disclaim on the perils of genetic diversity lost and others on the virtues of seed company breeding programs. Some warn of the risks of “franken-foods,” others tout the benefits of reduced chemical use. – Dr. D. Michael Shafer

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