Communities for Future
Online Summit
Our Response to the Climate Emergency

February 1-10, 2020

Albert Bates

Visionary Lawyer, Author, Permaculturalist, Ecovillage Practitioner
Albert Bates

Albert Bates' view on our present moment is wide and clear: starting from a deep understanding of our ecosystems and of humans' particular impact on them, Albert brings indigenous and earth-centred wisdom into a carbon plan for restoring balance. Albert has the beautiful ability to look at our modern human behaviour as a natural stage of the larger cycle of life.

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  • Introduction
  • Being hippie and being awake
  • Carbon in the cycle of life
  • Biochar and carbon cascades
  • Setting new goals for carbon drawdown
  • Why it takes so long to change
  • Reforming the model of human settlement on the planet and maturing as a species
Albert Bates

Albert Bates started of as an environmental rights lawyer and went on to become a scientist, an author, a master permaculture teacher, and co-founder of Global Village Institute, a non-profit scientific research, development and demonstration organization with projects on six continents. He is one of the core founders of The Farm Ecovillage and was part of the leadership team of the Global Ecovillage Network during the first decade after its inception. His books include Climate in Crisis, The Biochar Solution, and The Paris Agreement. His latest book, Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth, came out in 2019.


Global Village Institute for Appropiate Technology

The Farm Ecovillage

Book: Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth

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  • This is the most hopeful and most practical thing I have heard in decades!
    How can my community get involved? We live on Cortes Island in the Salish Sea off the coast of British Columbia.
    Thank you for your work.

  • Alice Güntert in Switzerland does alot of research on BioChar : Also the Wein Business of Delinat The idea of adding Biochar to Streets and Automobile Chassis sounds wierd, but is amazing that that is useful too! What wonderful information to hear!

  • Mireille Lucas

    I love this paradigm shift allowing for unexpected innovation.
    More info here:

    I love about his holistic way of looking at issues and recommending a more harmonistic way of addressing crisis (vs. fear and stress).

    Thank you for your enthusiasm and optimism.

  • Ed

    4 Feb 2020, Earth
    Biochars? Interesting, ironic hope.
    Any unintended consequences or signals showing up…
    Course with an 8,000 year precident, still one wonders then…how the ship got so off good course.
    Anyway thank you, a pondering is calling

  • 4 Feb 2020, Earth
    Biochars? Interesting, ironic hope.
    Any unintended consequences or signals showing up…
    Course with an 8,000 year precident, still one wonders then…how the ship got so off good course.
    Anyway thank you, a pondering is calling

  • Always a treat to listen to Albert; inspiring, reassuring, cautionary, energising and more.

    I’d love to speak with anyone (particularly in Europe) interested in collaborating to set up some prototype micro-enterprise hubs dedicated to developing ‘carbon cascade’ products, services and technologies.

    If you haven’t yet read “BURN-Using Fire to Cool the Earth”, I highly recommend it.

    You can also hear more on the topic in a recent conversation I had with Albert in my podcast series, “Designers of Paradise”

  • Elizabeth Hubbard

    Good work, Albert. peace, neutopia

  • Hi Donna and thanks for that. I gave a workshop on ecovillage design at Hollyhock some years ago and have fond memories of forest walks, clambakes on the beach and kayaking the strait.

    The first order of business is to identify woody wastes and separate those, such as garden waste, paper and cardboard, pallets etc. Check out my YouTube channel. I show the whole process of making biochar in a simple pit kiln, something I do several times each year to make fertilizers for my garden and other useful things.

    I would be happy to return to Cortes to do a Biochar Master Class some day if fates and finances align.

    Cheers, Albert

  • Hi Ed and good point to make that I did not in the interview. There ARE examples of bad biochars that can do damage, at least temporarily. Undercooked and poorly sourced they can contain high PAH or residues from pressure treatment or waterproofing. Most often, scientific soil studies that find nil or negative results have a common fault: the researchers neglected the important stage of conditioning or “charging” the char before applying it to the soil. Straight from the kiln it is bone-dry and hydrophobic. This is biology, not physics. Co-composted or soaked in a compost tea, biochars become hydrophylic and endowed with a rich microbiome that really does all the work when they reach the soil. Biochars are porous media, not magic. The magic comes from our quantum entanglement with the depth and diversity of the soil epigenome, a.k.a. terroire.

  • Alice Güntert

    Earlier today I posted the website of the Oekozentrum Langenbruck in Switzerland, but that was removed. My contact there sent me two pdf datei over two meetings over BioChar, as my data was removed, I just asked him to send the info directly to the GEN staff. So to the question of what is going on in Europe with BioChar GEN should soon have the information. Although the Website info is in german, the center staff also speak english.

  • kumah drah

    I have heard of biochar as an organic fertiliser. ( Is that the same as bokashi as Japanese call it). Yet to see its production and use. Kosha’s interview with Albert changes my views about carbon. Who knows if I would become an apostle of burning to cool the planet after reading the book!
    In traditional farming in West Africa slash-and-burn farming is practised extensively. But it comes sometimes with the unintended hazard of resulting in bush fires. I observed that crops do better where much burning takes place. Is it because of the carbon residue? I am however not suggesting the slash-and-burn method because of the disadvantages including burning microbes in the soil. It would be good idea to produce biochar under controlled conditions. Production of biochar can be at community level creating jobs for people and enriching soils for higher productivity. That could be an efficient way of making better use of ‘waste.’
    Thank you.

  • Albert’s most radical claim: When produced at scale, biochar related products can apparently ‘draw down’ more CO2 than industrial civilisation currently produces. If that’s true, what’s stopping that from happening? Or perhaps even more to the point, what’s stopping US from doing it?

  • Ed

    4 Feb 2020 3 pm mst

    Well thank you Albert for that,
    you have many gifts for us.
    most things no matter it seems have unknowns….
    this cannot be a reason for not trying though,
    as long as the unknowns are manageable and within reason it works,
    sometimes though we seem to forget that ‘scale” factor…..
    one fossil car is okay, a billion , ? not so much,
    same with most things, which is why i wonder with an 8000 year track record what
    was the unknowns?
    Anyway thanks again, this, biochars , is or might be the bio bullet we may need.
    For now,
    onward ….

  • Ed

    Fun facts,
    humans consume 100 million barrels of oil a day?
    thats 10 billion kg of new CO2 if all those oils are burned,
    theres 50 years of accumulation
    seems the co2 concentration has gone up 1 ppm since 1900 AD
    300 ppm to 415 ppm
    its probably more of an exponential curve,
    like adding more and more insulation to our house each year…
    at any rate the amount of energy added to the oceans since
    the 1970s by humans is equivalent to 1 billion atom bombs.
    but then it is a heat sink, passive ,
    if we could some how harness that extra heat?
    but how?

  • Dear Albert
    Can you explain me or give the best concise source how BioChar is binding CO2 from the air and by which activities it will bind 50Gigatons+ per year. And how to participate.
    I would be very grateful.
    Sundar Dreyfus from Centre of Unity Schweibenalp Swiss Ecovillage since1982 With alpine permaculture.

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