Everyone recognises the importance of breathing good air but unless you’re seeing the city smog, or smoke from the wildfires, it’s often easy to ingor the dangers of air pollution.
However it can leave a big imprint on health, with evidence showing that air pollution can impact human health in many ways. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there to be around 7 million premature deaths per year due to air pollution from anthropogenic and natural sources and of those deaths 4.2 million are from outdoor air pollution.
Most air pollution is created by people, taking the form of emissions from factories, cars, planes, or aerosol cans. And then there’s agricultural burning - where farmers clear crop waste to clear fields and speed up the farming process.
It's a huge issue particularly in the developing areas of Africa and Southeast Asia and one that Biochar Life is working on solving.
Corn is an inherently dirty crop with three quarters of the plant itself ending up as waste. Only 22% is actually corn kernel that people can eat. You get stalk, you get cob, you get husk…you have to get rid of it, to clear it for next year's crop. If your field is on a mountain slope, you're not gonna pick it up by hand, you can't run a tractor over it, so out comes Mr Bic [the lighter] and vroom -- your field is clear again.
- Michael Shafer, Warm Heart Worldwide
What is Biochar?
Biochar begins as carbonous biomass – wood chips, saw dust, forest slash or crop waste ranging from cocoa pods to corn stalks – heated very hot in the near absence of oxygen (pyrolyzed). In Europe, it is pyrolyzed in big, costly, high-tech machines to produce custom chars for food or pharmaceuticals.
Over the past 50 years the population in Thailand has increased 146%, from 27.4 million to 67.2 million. 40% of the population are rural farmers, who have little to no biochar training in regards to sustainable agriculture practices.
As the population has grown, so has the pollution created by the standard practice of burning crop residue after harvest. The air quality in Thailand has reached high risk levels. It is also a major contributor to global warming.
Making biochar from crop waste produces no smoke and it can be used as fertiliser or animal food. Teaching farmers how to produce biochar provides them with an alternative to crop burning - as a result reducing the air pollution whilst providing them with an additional source of income.
Changing minds whilst improving livelihoods
Biochar Life, an impact venture of Warm Heart Worldwide, train smallholder farmers to create biochar, not burn, their crop waste, certify the amount of carbon removed, provide access to global carbon offset markets for the verified carbon sequestration and ensure immediate payment, thereby encouraging others also to biochar, not burn.
If we could take the millions of tonnes of corn waste in northern Thailand and turn it into biochar, explains Mr Shafer, "we would be removing literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Task started working with Biochar Life in 2021 with the initial pilot kicking off in Thailand and according to Michael Shafer of Warm Heart Worldwide, there are four national reasons for promoting biochar in Thailand:
- Every tonne of biochar plowed into the ground or fed to animals sequesters two tonnes of CO2.
- Making biochar from waste biomass not burning it eliminates haze (PM2.5), improving public health, cutting national healthcare costs and improving the prospects of hospitality.
- Applying biochar to degraded soil restores it better than synthetic fertiliser and increases water retention, both critical as we seek greater value-added, lower unit-cost agriculture and climate change resilience.
- Making basic biochar provides jobs and new income to many poor farmers and a grassroots stimulus to the economy.
It’s a great solution that not only results in cleaner air but also helps to improve the livelihoods of these small holder farmers that Biochar Life are working with in Thailand, Kenya and Malawi.
The opportunity for global scale
There are challenges to developing a scheme that can be fully trusted by organisations looking to purchase offsets, especially when it comes to scale. This is where technology like Task + Stellar combine can solve these problems. Stellar provides a decentralised paper trail of transactions, as well as cross border payments.
Note: Biochar Trust has rebranded to Biochar Life
Task grabs the essential data required to prove impact, and the application required to make it easy for farmers to get rewards in exchange for behaviour that reduces pollution. And using custom Stellar assets that only exist to represent this value, we end up with a watertight paper trail that is attractive to investors and can scale easily.
There is an increasing urgency for the rate at which we reverse climate change and carbon removal is a key element to the strategy. To underline this, The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recently released a report making it clear that carbon removal is an important part of a comprehensive strategy to combat climate change.
There are also a growing number of available carbon offsets that organisations and individuals invest in to reduce their own footprint. But what makes Biochar Life a key player in this area, such a great example for the future of these removal projects, is that they are not only focused on creating an asset that represents carbon removed - they have a holistic approach that also improves the livelihoods of these smallholder farmers.
Biochar Life’s mission is to support the environmental and wellness needs of the general public via the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduction of emissions - it’s a model for the future and one that we look forward to being part of at Task as the program continues to scale globally.
Creating your own asset marketplace
At Task we know many social and environmental enterprises could be changing the game and scaling their impact using similar techniques to warm Heart.
Click the button below to arrange a meeting with the team.
How to follow Warm Heart Worldwide
Scan the QR code below - if you don't yet have the Task mobile app installed, it will prompt you to do so, and it’ll ensure you are following the Warm Heart “Stop The Smoke” project.
That means you’ll see in real time the work they do, the farmers that produce the biochar, how it gets sequestered, and the biochar tokens that get minted.