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From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Rick Wilson via groups.io
Sent: Friday, July 16, 2021 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: [EXTERN] [Biochar] Seminar by Rachael Smolker of Biofuelwatch
Group, We should stop worrying about what other people think.
Go out and do it. Prove biochar works in a way that users will pay for it. Commercial scale demonstrations.
Claudia and list:
I agree with most below. See inserts
thank you so much, Benoit and Ron, for your enduring this BFW unpleasantness and sharing your thoughts with us.
In the last year it became more and more clear to me that it’s so easy to “be against something” and to try and appear smart by blocking, by saying why something doesn’t work. And endlessly hard to seek solutions and change, to try and fail, to take action. You’re vulnerable when you do, you can be hurt or hit by failure. Good to have a supportive group (like this one) when you do. But falling and getting up is how we learn, how we grow and invent things. It’s the essence of being human.
We’ve had this “blocking solutions” behaviour in Germany by the older Generation for far too long, meanwhile it really endangers my kid’s generations’ future.
We’ve had these “I know better than you and boost my alpha-person ego with it” blockers for far too long, and this is why we are in this global warming mess in the first place.
Often, these were “white old men” guys but here, we seem to have the evidence that this behaviour is definitely not gender-driven:
[RWL1: This below is to mostly comment on your noting that that there may be some sort of unusual “gender-driven" aspect to biochar opposition. This webinar would (unfortunately) suggest so.
a. Dr. Smoker is a relatively late addition to BFW - in biochar terms. BFW was founded by an equally anti-biomass (but unmentioned) Brit; Almuth Ernsting). As an example, Rachel erred in saying BFW became aware of biochar in 2009. I remember hearing Ms Ernsting's opposition prior to the 2008 IBI meeting in Newcastle UK. Then being surprised she was not in attendance - as i thought she would be there with more biochar background. Newcastle and London are not that far apart.
b. I was in a CBD meeting later in London with Almuth, and a very supportive German woman, where they again were strongly anti-biochar - and fairly successful. So i have viewed BFW as a small, wrong but effective female-dominated small "environmental” NGO. This week's audience [78 sounds OK - not 10) seemed about 95% female. From the evidence this week one could easily conclude that biochar opposition is female dominated
2. So, its great that you (a very effective female IBI board member) have joined this BFW vs. biochar discussion.
Fortunately, biochar is well represented gender wise - on both the USBI board (5 females out of 11) and IBI boards (Kathleen Draper being on both and the IBI chair). This being another pretty good proof that there is not much biochar gender divide on biochar at this upper level. Anyone listening to this week’s talk would have gained the opposite opinion.
I checked Google on biochar technical publications. Conservatively you are ahead by a ratio of about 100 to 1. Dr. Smolker has done some good scientific work - just. not on biochar.
3. I consider pretty good proof also of no gender divide in the first US state legislation on biochar (https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sjr17-002) passed with a 98-0 vote. But more importantly, most of the unanimous vote credit should go to a then senior Colorado state senator - Ellen Roberts.(R). The state of Washington has also recently unanimously.passed similar biochar legislation. Both bills predominantly based on forestry - not agriculture, energy, water, waste, or climate. By no means is BFW a leading voice on the harm biochar can do to forests (forestry harm and preservation being the almost sole webinar topic.)
She seems to be such a “white old male” type of person in my eyes, drawing ego from blocking, not from developing, inventing, helping. Just my 2 cents.
[RWL2: I have been told (accurately) that I qualify aa a “white old male” - and I confess to taking some pleasure in blocking BFW. It’s possibly or even probably true as "drawing ego from blocking”. But hopefully also at least partially balanced by my "developing, inventing, helping” biochar (I have helped with this list since before biochar got its present name in 2007).
Sorry for my sentimental thoughts, maybe I’m too sleep-deprived ;)
[RWL4: I’m not sorry. Thanks. And for doing such leading and exciting biochar research.
I hope someone has a way to get your and these thoughts back to the webinar sponsors and audience. Won’t be me.
Most in that audience are in danger of considerable future embarrassment for not understanding biochar’s huge potential role in the webinar’s subject matter - improving, not destroying, today’s often unhealthy forests.
I see little chance of changing the Smolker stance.
And I’m sure we agree gender is a non-issue as it relates to either biochar or forestry.
Yes Geoff Thomas, the way you pointed this very real life scenario out is 100%.
Complex systems thinking, planning and action, rather than narrowly focused separate , individual lab-research.
The art and science of the process also includes reaction time factors that not fit into typically publicly funded short term say 2 to 4 year research h projects.
The work continues here on my patch and any of our biochar customers and KON-TIKI-TAS Kiln clients.
The criticism that there are many different approaches from many different people on different soils reminds me of a time in New Zealand where the Europeans had developed a great yen for Bio-dynamic food, vegies etc, and the agriculture minister of the time, - whose name I can’t remember, - is there any thing more forgetable than an ex ministers name? - but I digress, he enthused about this wonderful new value added, market and how it offered many advantages, blah blah, concluding, “ if only we could get this witchy thing out of it”.
Certainly I could not blame the ignorant for seeing the arcanity in Bio-dynamics, - it exists and is central to it’s success, but he could just not see that.
- Similiarly, the diversity of different Biochar makers with their different local soils that they design around should not be seen as a negative, - it is indeed a great positive, that there are differing solutions for differing circumstance and what is more good luck, a person dealing with that particular area, wow, what a strength Biochar offers!!
This bureaucratic ONE SIZE FITS ALL mind set should be called out for the nonsense and danger it is, - how can we answer new challenges with only old irrelevant solutions?
In spanish we have a say: " With friends like these you do not need enemies"
El mié., 14 de jul. de 2021 a la(s) 9:09 p. m., Benoit Lambert
I listened too and… oh well same as in 2011, or close. No recognition that IBI is against cutting off virgin forests to produce biochar… so biochar gets associated with energy production using biomass broadly speaking. Not fair.
But what really got my attention is when someone asked what Ms Smolker thought of using ruminants to store carbone. He/she was referring to holistic grazing management promoted by Alan Savory and soil4climate (I am an advisory board member). What André Voisin discovered in the fifties, and Savory confirmed through his observations, la dynamique des herbages, grasses’ dynamic, is a major discovery. It is meaningful because it shows she is not interested in solutions at all.
I am preparing an article Biogeotherapy — life as a geological healing force. Holistic grazing, regenerative ranching as they call it, is one of the 4 pillars of nature-based climate solutions with biochar, no-till & cover crops, massive reforestation. Than I have identified about 15 other nature-based solutions including blue carbon, hemp, inga, agro-forestry, etc.
The fact Rachel had no idea what the person was referring to is very telling. She does not understand or measure how trophic chains shaped climates, how bisons were a geological force—and how big African herds are still today a local geological force.
Membre: Fondation Stratégie énergétique, biosphère et société, Genève
Reviewer/réviseur IPCC/GIEC, Working Group I (WGI), Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), in particular Chap. 5 Carbon dioxide removal methods/biochar.
Tel: 450 775 7444
Ron, I believe that voluntary carbon credits will help bringing biochar into solutions for some applications.
The nature of biochar for soils is that it is a multifunctional amendment. You can’t put biochar into the soil and change just one thing.
For instance, if you see a positive growth response, it could be attributed to many possibilities, for instance.
1) the soil was low in potassium and calcium which are usually found in biochar
2) biochar added air porosity to the soil so now the microbes can breath and do their thing, and water can now flow through it
3) you reduced the electrical potential so that nutrients can now better flow into the plant
4). The soil was sodic so that you can now rinse out the sodium
6) you created a magnetic field
7) you added beneficial microbes
8) The biochar attracted UFO’s who made the plant grow bigger
And you are free to make a claim around cause and effect that you see fit, because it can’t be proven given all the possibilities.
The breakthrough that is needed, the Academic Hero who has yet to emerge, will build a model - framework based on physical and chemical properties of soil and biochar and other amendments with the ability to identify where constraints are in the soil and which ones biochar or other amendments can help with. By analogy, in chemical engineering (I am one), you can predict the physical properties of materials you never tested using Group Contribution framework, and those methods work quite well. Same for chemical kinetics.
We need a group contribution method for soil and amendments.
Until then we have to hope for AI like you suggest…
Ron, great summary, thanks for sharing!
Re Cool Planet. Economics were independent of the price of oil. If the oil price went down, the RINS credit went up, and visa versa.
[RWL: Apologies. i vaguely recall your saying this once before.
Cool Planet failed because it could not create a large enough market for biochar. We are still failing on this dimension.
[RWL: is there a credit amount or method that will change that?
Biochar is a complicated material, they are all different, where a particular one can help in soils is situational (soil challenge, plant type) dependent, it not a universal tool.
There is not accepted guidance on where it can help and which char characteristics are important per application type or soil challenge, how to apply it, specific enough to act on with precision, and there is a divergence of opinions among advocates, which confuses the outsiders.
[RWL: Rachel said something similar - but that was not her main message. With some 300 or more new publications per month, we should be solving some of that. i think we badly need Ai = artificial intelligence. Or is the problem so severe that AI and biochar still need more time?
I listened and hope to hear Frank’s thoughts also.
It was much the same as other BFW material - but she willing to grant that there have been some successes - to me, that seemed new. Her cites were mostly pd - and to BFW material.
I think about 75 on the webinar - a very friendly audience - united against all cutting of trees - i think of any kind; moderator was supportive.
She got into some difficulty being against electric cars and PV. Claimed some group (maybe Sierra Club) is proposing to cut down forests for PV. First time I have heard that one - and doubt it. i found a site with a similar story
This was not a venue to ask questions - and I didn’t (moderator gave no names of questioners). I didn’t hear anything strongly pro-biochar
She clearly is way behind on biochar progress - except she acknowledged biochar was growing fast.
She said biochar was hard to find and no major producers - all back yard. Gave a plug for Kelpie’s equipment.
It should be easy to quote from her material on her lack of real biochar knowledge. Her cites were all old - except a new one that was unreadable.
Lots of time spent on Cool Planet and Mike Cheiky - with no explanation that their business plan was based on $100 oil - which happened - but later got down to $50. now near $75.
Never mentioned any of the positives -
growth in publications per month
industrial growth rate (2-year doubling time??)
biochar webinars per month
support by numerous Forest services and foresters
IBI and range of countries with major biochar programs
On Jul 13, 2021, at 7:43 PM, Geoff Thomas <wind@...> wrote:
Hi Frank, I was able to enroll, but not open the meeting, then again my computer is getting old..
Biochar: what it is and what it isn’t
Rachel Smolker is co-director of Biofuelwatch. Her work has spanned local grassroots organizing to participation in international processes, including the United Nations conventions on climate and biodiversity. She has researched, written and organized on the impacts of biofuels, bioenergy and biochar on land use, forests, biodiversity, food, people and the climate.
She has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan and worked previously as a field biologist. She lives in Vermont.
This event is part of the Forest Speakers Series, a collaboration of Climate Action Now and Save Massachusetts Forests
Register HERE for this talk
The talks are free, but registration is required for EACH meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with your link for joining the event.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/963080281191217
The result of some digging about a decade ago seemed to indicate Biofuel Watch was being funded by fossil fuel interests. BFW has always doggedly pursued an agenda fueled by disinformation, undeterred by arguments or common sense. Her doctorate seems to be about dolphins, and for a PhD that bills herself as an authority on biochar, her published work on the matter is rather scant. See https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rachel-Smolker
In any case, her efforts to hold back biochar adoption are not needed. The fact that it is already so hard for a biochar-based business to gain financial traction makes them completely unnecessary.
On Sun, Jul 11, 2021 at 9:14 PM Geoff Thomas <wind@...> wrote:
Hi Hugh, haven’t we heard that name before?
It certainly contains the same dishonesty, do you want an analysis?
Other than the same nonsense by anti renewable opponents, “it is going to take too much of our precious land” (no figures provided, all sorts of hidden - unexplicated assumptions), but the almost word for word, "One gets the impression that (for some inexplicable reason) there is great interest in finding something useful to do with biochar.”
This is such a dishonest sentence, that Biochar can draw down potentially huge amounts of Carbon is dissed by calling it ‘for some inexplicable reason’ as if there was no reason when it is a life and death for the human race reason, and the attempt to sound wise and contemptuous by saying that biochar is looking for a reason, when all the things she mentions are Very good reasons, not attempts to find a reason, streuth, the woman is so obviously slimy, what is the motivation behind her supporters?
There is a seminar this Tuesday:
Biochar: What it is and what it is not
Rachel Smolker, Ph.D.
Tuesday July 13th from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
They seem to save the seminars to be viewed later - which is another way to see Dr. Smolker's perspective.
Also attached is a recent opinion piece by the same. For those who want to meet the opposition of biochar, this is a place to start.