An Example of Small-Scale, Locally-Appropriate Action
This is a guest post by Ryan King. Ryan is a biologist, independent journalist, and community “eco-preneur” in Costa Rica. Below, he provides a brief introduction to decentralized biodiesel and biochar production in Costa Rica. His story will interest readers for at least two reasons: (1) he outlines specific and repeatable measures to address peak oil and climate change through the synergy of local energy production and carbon sequestration; and (2) he provides a working example of the benefits of increasing localized self-sufficiency. Ryan is expanding biodiesel, biochar, environmental projects through eco-hotels and sustainability projects, as well as looking for funding and experienced and non-experienced participants to contribute.
Though Costa Rica markets itself as a pioneer in environmental protection, its national oil refinery, ‘RECOPE’ is still failing after more than two years since its pledge to introduce biodiesel, and the country has not been able to provide legitimate carbon negative programs. While some reforestation programs have received significant funding under the assumption that planting trees in tropical forests sequesters carbon in a way that is easily quantifiable, research indicates that tropical forests may increasingly become sources and not sinks of carbon as drought and climate change events worsen.
Costa Rica’s economy depends primarily on “eco-tourism,” and within areas dependent on fragile biodiversity and rapidly changing ecosystems decentralized energy and environmental solutions are desperately needed. My interest has been to begin exploring the means to introduce emerging non-hierarchical social organizational theory in environmental and alternative energy applications by spreading biodiesel and biochar programs through existing environmental education and eco-tourist projects.
While simple, local-scale projects such as the biodiesel and biochar projects discussed below individually make minute contributions to global change threats, their ease of application and potential to spread rapidly through networking, the internet, and community programs as well as ability to provide immediate economic and environmental benefits make them especially appealing. The last detail is crucial: solutions that are economically viable without reliance on outside subsidy or centralized control are urgently needed to directly benefit local biodiversity in threatened areas and to build community-scale self-sufficiency through improved soils and local energy and food production. Previous top-down approaches have been unable to distribute the technology or the awareness to adjust in the wake of the overwhelming failures of mainstream organizations and governments. As a result, and especially as the current economic downturn continues, alternative, networked distribution models will find increasing popularity and success.