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Monday Morning Plenary

State of the Biochar Industry: Thayer Tomlinson, IBI Communications Director http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSByIiudOZI This presentation will provide an overview of the current state of the biochar industry, including current International Biochar Initiative (IBI) programs and how IBI sees the growth of the biochar field internationally—touching on specific trends in commercialization, project implementation, research, educational facilities, regional groups, etc. The presentation will focus specifically on IBI’s recent industry and project tracking and outreach around the world to highlight where most of the current biochar companies are operating, their products, and other specifics as well as specifics on current operating biochar projects (run mainly by non-profits and academic institutions). Pyrolyzing Misconceptions: Converting BioMyths to Biochar Success: Gloria Flora, US Biochar Initiative Director http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrxr52hIZ7A As the biochar movement grows, so do its detractors. From well-known critics on the fringes to centrist government agency objectors, biochar advocates and entrepreneurs can get publically lampooned or quietly torpedoed as we try to bring biochar into the mainstream. A well-placed barb can bring down months of effort, which is especially challenging when competing for funding, investments and community support. This speech will objectively review the criticisms, examining the science (or lack thereof) behind them. The fears and belief systems of critics and what motivates their disapproval and attacks will be discussed. The talk will then turn to how to effectively ‘pyrolyze’ these misconceptions without killing the messenger but rather by sifting out the fears from realities. Weaknesses in the biochar industry, including our claims and science will also be examined. Scrutinizing the words and phrases that ignite and inflame both sides will help us to better understand how to avoid interaction pitfalls. In closing, we’ll take a close look at how we in the biochar community can improve our messaging, communications and techniques to dissolve the resistance, disbelief and misstatements about biochar – turning biomyths into valuable products and services! 19th Century Roots of Modern Biochar: Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7PBUetUlR8 Biochar enthusiasts are familiar with the amazing Amazonians, who used biochar to create an agricultural civilization in an inhospitable rainforest environment. But by and large, we are not aware of the history of biochar use in Europe and America. It all began with Justus Liebig, the "father of organic chemistry" who wrote in 1841 that charcoal "surpasses all other substances in the power which it possesses of condensing ammonia within its pores… it absorbs 90 times its volume of ammoniacal gas, which may be again separated by simply moistening it with water." This simple statement launched a wave of practical experimentation using charcoal in agriculture and for waste management that lasted for nearly a century. The evidence is found in hundreds of reports published in the 19th century in science and agriculture journals. Some of these early proponents of biochar developed visionary proposals for reforming agriculture and civilization. This presentation will tell the story of these early biochar enthusiasts.