Biochar's Climate Benefits Exciting But Uncertain
Research has shown that biochar — produced when organic material is heated in low- or no-oxygen environments — has multiple environmental benefits: it can be used to clean up polluted soils, scrub mercury from power plant emissions, improve crop yields, and potentially slow — or even reverse — global warming. Biochar is particularly effective in poor quality soil. And it is a sensible way to deal with abundant agricultural and food waste that often otherwise leads to pollution or ends up in landfills. Researchers, farmers, and environmentalists are all excited about the potentialities of biochar, as it could possibly dramatically slow climate change without resorting to potentially destructive geoengineering projects. Yet as more research and long-term studies are needed to fully assess the potential of biochar to effect climate change, the U.S. government is simultaneously cutting funding and winding down research.