James Lovelock's One Last Chance to Save Humanity From Climate Change: Burying Large Amounts of Charcoal in the Ground

For those that don't know who James Lovelock is here's the one sentence bio: Originator of the Gaia hypothesis, chemist, did work on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons which eventually led them from being banned, advocate of nuclear power. Which is to say, that when James Lovelock says humanity only has one chance left not to get annihilated by the effects of climate change in the 21st century, it's worth shutting up and listening to what the man says. Lovelock was recently interviewed by New Scientist:Carbon Trading is a Giant Scam, Ditto Carbon Sequestration
After saying that there's "not a hope in hell" that we'll be able to work out some global system to deal with climate change similar the global CFC ban in time to save ourselves from climate change, Lovleock called most of the "green" efforts to deal with climate change verge on being gigantic scams,

Carbon trading, with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It's not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it'll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning. I am not against renewable energy, but to spoil the decent countryside in the UK with wind farms is driving me mad.

Lovelock went on to say that plans to sequester carbon were a waste of time, crazy and dangerous. They would take too much time and too much energy. On nuclear energy he said that is was a way to solve energy problems, but it "is not a global cure for climate change. It is too late for emissions reductions measures." Except this one thing...

Bury Massive Amounts of Charcoal to Sequester Carbon

There is one way we could save ourselves and tat is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste—which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering—into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast.

[This will make enough of a difference.] The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won't do it.

90% of Humanity Will Die by 2100 With 4 Degrees of Warming
Lovelock then went on to say that is is wrong to assume that humanity will survive 2°C of warming, and that at 4°C of warming the planet will only be able to support about one-tenth the current human population. He predicts that by the end of the 21st century up to 90% of humanity will die, primarily because of lack of food.

Cheery stuff, right? Well, Lovelock insists its not a depressing scenario in the rest of the interview: One Last Chance to Save Mankind
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Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Global Warming Solutions