Friday, December 18, 2009

How to Change the World without Sacrifices

I watched the debate on CNN last night re the Copenhagen summit on Global warming

Like always I ended up frustrated listening to the pros and cons

All the proposals for making a better world made obvious sense
The guy who was against it (and whom I was angry with) argued that we are asking poor nations and poor people in general to make sacrifices or pay extra taxes in order to do it - and therefore no matter how good the ideals and no matter how much economic sense it might make in the future, the existential poverty of the present means mass change can never happen.

I had spent the day with the kids doing a successful experiment in converting raw bio-mass (in this case alfalfa) into biochar in order to produce enough biochar to make soil-enrichment samples for planting in the spring. So I went to bed thinking both positively and negatively.

This whole New Age debate about mass change - politically and economically is a war between the hard realities of business as is at present and idealism as it should be - with time running out on all of us

I woke up this morning with the obvious and immediate solution to mass change staring me in the face.

The answer is to forget about taxes and sacrifices and think about bonuses and profits instead.

Pay people more money than they have at present to make significant changes in the way they do bui9sness, making them richer, happier and more motivated while doing it,

Sounds crazy right?
Not at all.

Example No 1.

Black students do more poorly in school than whites
and more end up in juvenile detention and jail


There is a guy running a private school in Harlem with over a thousand students. He has been paying his senior black students over a 100 bucks a month to keep up full attendance and high grades for the past five years.
He has been accused of bribery which he cheerfully acknowledges
but significantly not of corruption
Net result .he has lifted black scores in all grades in maths and English up to the same level as whites. Previously thought to be impossible. He has achieved 100% graduation results with every student off to college.
New York City is giving him the money and is happy to do so. It costs them $100,000 a year per child in juvenile detention and $60,000 a year for one in jail. The Harlem school has proved to be cheap at the price.

Example No 2
Fish Lake valley
Alfalfa farmers are planting a swamp plant in the desert. In the process they are draining a precious nartural aquifer of all its water The have huge energy needs required to pump the water for irrigation. And poisoning the soil with insecticides

We pay the farmers more for their alfalfa than they are currently getting ($200 per ton)

We then convert their crop into BioChar (worth $700, per ton)
on the condition that they use half the biochar ( we sell the other half to pay for it all) to improve their soil and gradually change crops to planting more sustainable corn and fruit orchards which require far less water and energy use.

If that kind of thinking is positive in those two entirely different examples of a mass change of consciousness
I am prepared to bet the farm it can be done so everywhere


erich said...

Please don't throw the Biochar baby out with Geo-Engineering Snake Oil bath water.

All political persuasions agree, building soil carbon is GOOD.
To Hard bitten Farmers, wary of carbon regulations that only increase their costs, Building soil carbon is a savory bone, to do well while doing good.

Biochar provides the tool powerful enough to cover Farming's carbon foot print while lowering cost simultaneously.

Another significant aspect of bichar is removal of BC aerosols by low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria. and village level systems
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.

The Biochar Fund :
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )

Mark my words; Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker's programs to grow exponentially, only a short time lies between This man's nomination for a Noble Prize.

This authoritative PNAS article should cause the recent Royal Society Report to rethink their criticism of Biochar systems of Soil carbon sequestration;

Reducing abrupt climate change risk using
the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory
actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions

There are dozens soil researchers on the subject now at USDA-ARS.
and many studies at The up coming ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;

S.W. Pringle said...

Thanks for the info

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