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Will Biochar Save The Polar Bears?

What the hell is biochar? Ben Eltham answers all your questions about the latest climate change techno-fix

Source:  Copyright 2009, New Matilda
Date:  April 15, 2009
Original URL: Status ONLINE

With the recent dramatic collapse of the ice bridge to the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica, climate change is back in the headlines.

But Malcolm Turnbull and Coalition environment spokesman Greg Hunt think they have an answer: biochar. Many of the world's top climate scientists, including James Hansen, agree with them.

So what exactly is biochar? Will it work, and can it save us?

Essentially, biochar is charcoal -- the burnt remains of organic material. The CSIRO has published a handy fact-sheet which explains that biochar is "a type of charcoal which results from the thermal treatment (heating) of natural organic materials (eg crop waste, wood chip, municipal waste, or manure) in an oxygen-limited environment. This process is referred to as pyrolysis."

The pyrolysis is the important part. Merely burning organic matter on a big bonfire won't give you biochar; limited oxygen and very high temperatures are required.

What biochar ...

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