I was in the middle of watching a Harry Potter movie when Dolph rang me, full of his usual zany enthusiasm, and bubbling with delight over the latest progress in the Biochar Project. (I’ll tell you about that in a minute.) I got off the phone thinking, “How the hell does he do that? He attracts everything to him that he needs-it’s like magic.”
It wasn’t until I was walking my dog in driving rain later on Cabarita beach that it suddenly it hit me-Dolph is a JK Rowlings and wizard rolled into one.
His vision for The Biochar Project and what it can do for the planet came to him in a kind of ‘mental download’ like Harry Potter’s creator experienced. And from then on all the pieces of the jigsaw that were needed to make the vision a reality started turning up like magic. Whenever he needed something else-it was always there.
For instance, to make biochar you need trees, right? Lots of them. Plus the means for felling them…and something to make the biochar in in reasonable quantities. You need a market, and the business needs to be financially viable and self-sustaining. You need people with the skills to help.
The list goes on.
So where’s the magic, you ask?
Well how’s this for starters?
Dolph receives the grand vision for this Biochar Project, then:
- He meets a bloke with over 3000 acres of trees that need to be sustainably managed (including a LOT of felling). He basically hands it to Dolph on a plate-along with a dozer, bobcat, sheds, etc, and permission to make it into a public centre for workshops and education. It’s just out of the village of Kunghur, in the powerful Byron-Mt Warning region where there is already an awareness of, and interest in, biochar.
- A business up Noosa way that manufactures huge biochar furnaces offered Dolph one to put on the site and use. They later amended their offer to a bigger, better model, once production ramps up. It’s worth several hundred thousand dollars.
- People with the skills and expertise needed for setting up and running the Project have been gravitating to Dolph. For instance Gillie is a wiz with web sites and graphics, and I am an editor. (We’re both pretty good cooks too, but we like to think that’s not Dolph’s main reason for having us on the team). There are others I have yet to meet-and others yet to turn up, drawn by that strange force Dolph emanates when there’s something or someone the Project needs.
- He now has his first market-an order for 700 tonnes of biochar initially, increasing up to 3,700 tonnes per year. This means the project will be financially viable, generating income even from its early days.
- According to the ABC’s Landline program recently, Australia’s forestry plantations are facing financial ruin. The bottom has fallen out of the timber industry, and farmers are ready to bulldoze the lot into the ground. Talk about a timely opportunity. How about them setting up or hiring a biochar plant and turning their forests into biochar, becoming part of The Project co-operative and selling to the new markets?
- And let’s not forget the carbon credits issue-biochar is a perfect antidote for greenhouse gases. And you don’t just have to burn trees to make biochar. Municipal waste will do as well. Hands up any councils who want to reduce their greenhouse gases debt, not to mention their ever-increasing landfill? And don’t forget the increasing government pressure and incentives to do so.
Are you starting to get the idea of Dolph’s magic? His timing is spot on and the resources are rolling in.
But to get back to that phone call I mentioned at the beginning that had me shaking my head in amazement. Dolph has somehow come up with this idea of daisy-chaining retorts to the main biochar furnace in such a way that biochar is created in each unit-all drawing heat from the one central furnace. This vastly multiplies the amount of biochar that the system can make, with no extra fuel.
But get this-last week, just after he got this idea, he had three PhDs come out to the Kunghur site. When he described his concept they firstly shook their heads, then scratched their heads, then finally nodded their heads. They had to admit it would work-but were obviously stunned that the idea had come from Dolph and not some intellectual experts (not thinking of anyone in particular). So it seems that Dolph’s just pulled another one out of the hat and taken this project to a whole new level.
I have to ask: Dolph-do you get regular visitations from an advanced alien species or something?!
Anyway, that’s enough for now, though there’s lots more juicy stuff. I’ll be briefer in future, but we just started officially on 1/1/11, so a bit of a sum-up was needed.
Stay tuned for info on how to get involved in this incredible project, including setting up the co-operative so we can get the ball rolling with the business side of things.
Ciao for now (why isn’t it Cow for niao?)
For Dolph, Charmaster