Image credit: Permaculture TV
Some believe biochar could offset as much as 12% of CO2 emissions, but others warn that biochar is no miracle cure—with the prospects of large-scale biochar plantations and other such enterprises getting activists worried. The ambiguous nature of biochar as both a potential solution, and a potential challenge, is not lost on Albert Bates—author of The Biochar Solution—who doesn't seem too keen on the title of his own book. Albert—who is also the author of The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook—is an unashamed advocate of biochar. Done right, he says, it can help farmers earn money, improve their soils, sequester carbon, and reduce reliance on polluting, old-fashioned cook stoves in the process.
But that doesn't stop Mr Bates worrying about a title like "The Biochar Solution", which he says is too unequivocal. Yet his publisher seems to think that it will sell better than Bates' preferred "Beyond Zero", or the slightly less catchy "The Biochar Partial Solution". They're probably right, of course, when it comes to book sales—but it is good to see the author is fully aware of the limitations of his subject matter.
Just as solar, wind, plug-in hybrids or reforestation are not "the solution" to climate change, so too biochar has to be taken as one tool in our armory. Good for Mr Bates for putting his book in that context...