Monday, September 8, 2008

Plan C 5.0: Community Solutions to Climate Change and Peak Oil

From Global Climate Solutions
2 09 2008

Relocalization—the process of creating sustainable and largely self-reliant communities that are all at once beautiful, prosperous, and meaningful places to live—is perhaps the single greatest step we can take to “decarbonize” our lives and thereby prepare for climate change and peak oil simultaneously.
It’s a shame and a testament to our highly compartmentalized 21st century mindset that many within the “climate change community” and the larger “sustainability community” don’t know about peak oil and the potentially damning effects it could have on our social and economic systems. For example, I take courses from highly, highly educated climate scientists who can speak for hours on, for example, the intricacies of cloud formation as it relates to sulfate particles in the atmosphere and how they are expected to change with a warming atmosphere. But ask them about “peak oil?” They don’t know what it is. Never heard of it.

You might be able to claim ignorance, but you can’t say there wasn’t anybody warning you about it or describing the solutions either. Community Solutions (, a vibrant non-profit organization out of Yellow Springs, Ohio, has been ringing the clarion call for solutions to climate change and peak oil for over half a decade now and are preparing to host their 5
th annual conference on “Plan C: Individual Survival Strategies for the Energy Crisis.” (Conference website available here:

To say that the list of speakers they have lined up are good would be a gross understatement—it would be worthy to travel to hear any one of the seven amazing visionaries they have scheduled.

Among them John Michael Greer (who has recently been called “the greatest peak oil historian in the English language), Richard Heinberg (easily the most influential and prolific writer on peak oil ), Peter Bane (probably one of the top Permaculture practitioners and teachers in the world, co-editor of Permaculture Activist [], and also my PC design course teacher;) and—let us not forget—Megan Quinn Bachman (Outreach director of Community Solutions—young, passionate, articulate, and a global leader—what more could you ask for?!)
The conference is scheduled to take place October 31st-November 2nd in Rochester, Michigan. In order to receive Early Registration prices you have to sign up before September 30th. The cost for the conference is a steal, in my opinion, with extremely low costs . (I should note that I am not affiliated whatsoever with the conference—I am merely a strong supporter of the great work and leadership Community Solutions has been providing over the years.)
It is function of our modernistic society that we believe that all of our problems—energy, climate, and environment—are capable of being solved with techno-fixes. Unfortunately, we may simply be out of time and energy resources to redesign our entire transportation and energy infrastructure. It’s a hard truth that many don’t want to face, but it may well be true.

Peter Bane: Permaculture wizard, activist, and friend!

Personally, I believe we should be actively working to research and develop renewable energy sources (particularly Carbon Negative Energy with biochar production in a process called pyrolysis in addition to wind and solar energy technologies), but the very first place to work on, the lowest-hanging fruit where we can save the most money and energy and where we can simultaneously prepare for peak oil and mitigate the threat of climate change is by relocalizing our communities; weatherizing and retrofitting our buildings; creating local sustainable food systems; generating healthy local economies; and utilizing the inherent wisdom of Permaculture design principles.
We have but one beautiful planet to protect and but precious little time to do it in. What we choose to do—or not to do—in the next five to ten years will make all the difference. Be prepared to work hard and work together—that’s the only way we’re going to win!

1 comment:

  1. The Rest of the Biochar Story:

    Charles Mann ("1491")in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.
    I think Biochar has climbed the pinnacle, the Combined English and other language circulation of NGM is nearly nine million monthly with more than fifty million readers monthly!
    We need to encourage more coverage now, to ride Mann's coattails to public critical mass.

    Please put this (soil) bug in your colleague's ears. These issues need to gain traction among all the various disciplines who have an iron in this fire.

    I love the "MEGO" factor theme Mann built the story around. Lord... how I KNOW that reaction.

    I like his characterization concerning the pot shards found in Terra Preta soils;

    so filled with pottery - "It was as if the river's first inhabitants had
    thrown a huge, rowdy frat party, smashing every plate in sight, then
    buried the evidence."

    A couple of researchers I was not aware of were quoted, and I'll be sending them posts about our Biochar group:

    and data base;

    I also have been trying to convince Michael Pollan ( NYT Food Columnist, Author ) to do a follow up story, with pleading emails to him

    Since the NGM cover reads "WHERE FOOD BEGINS" , I thought this would be right down his alley and focus more attention on Mann's work.

    I've admiried his ability since "Botany of Desire" to over come the "MEGO" factor (My Eyes Glaze Over) and make food & agriculture into page turners.

    It's what Mann hasn't covered that I thought should interest any writer as a follow up article.

    The Biochar provisions by Sen.Ken Salazar in the 07 farm bill,

    Dr, James Hansen's Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference last month, and coming article in Science,

    The new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils

    Glomalin's role in soil tilth & Terra Preta,
    Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil – concepts
    and mechanisms
    Daniel D. Warnock & Johannes Lehmann &
    Thomas W. Kuyper & Matthias C. Rillig,%209-20,%202007,%20Warnock.pdf

    posted on the TP/Bioenergy site, this presentation is one of the best I've seen to get across how MYC symbiotically permeates all in roots & soils, and elucidates often hidden benefits. Very nice pictures;

    The International Biochar Initiative Conference Sept 8 in New Castle;

    Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?
    Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!

    This technology represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.
    Terra Preta Soils a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration,10X Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too. Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration.

    Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.