Bury the Problem

Is there already a solution to climate change?

What if it were possible to reverse climate change by efficiently disposing of diseased vineyards, dead trees and invasive plants? At the same time, suppose one could also improve water quantity and quality in vineyards, agricultural lands and open space?

Award-winning astrophysicist Frank Shu of UC San Diego will be explaining how all of this is possible in a lecture April 20 at Sonoma State University. Part of the “What Physicists Do” series, Shu’s talk, “The Future of Energy,” focuses on the production of a material called “biochar.”

Biochar is a particular type of charcoal destined for a particular purpose: it’s a carbon-negative energy alternative to burning fossil fuels that can also be used as a soil amendment. It’s created by burning plant material like grape vine cuttings. Biomass otherwise degrades to produce greenhouse gases, contributing to the problem of climate change.

When transformed into biochar and buried in the ground, biomass is prevented from releasing more greenhouse gases; additionally, its carbon-sequestration properties keeping carbon in the ground.

Shu is concerned that if the most pessimistic projections for climate change become reality, the effects could disrupt civilization. As a result, he has chosen to devote his attention and considerable scientific acumen to the issue. Shu speaks April 20 at 4pm in Darwin Hall, Room 103, at Sonoma State University, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.

Sonoma County Library