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Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award Goes to Dr. John Todd; Role for Cellulosic Biofuels

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has awarded Dr. John Todd the first-annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award for his submission entitled “Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia.”

There are over one and a half million acres of strip-mined lands in Appalachia. Coal mining practices have removed mountaintops and filled valleys with the resulting overburden. Landscapes and communities have been devastated. The primary rationale for this is that the nation needs the coal for electricity. Fifty percent of the USA’s electricity comes from burning coal. However, coal combustion is creating increasing levels of carbon dioxide, triggering climate change and threatening the ecological integrity of the planet.

There is an alternative future for Appalachia. It is the antithesis of the current economy of the region. This is a future in which carbon is no longer an atmospheric pollutant but is sequestered in soils and biota. Mining toxins are remediated, coal lands restored, and a new economy is based upon renewable energy, natural resources, enterprise diversification and an ownership society.

—from the project proposal

Dr. Todd proposes a four-stage replicable process:

  • Healing. The first stage in the transformation of the region will involve the detoxifying the trillions of gallons of coal slurry that is held in reservoirs throughout the region. This involves eco-machines designed to render the material harmless to the environment and local inhabitants as well as to create beneficial products from the treated slurry solids.

    We have evidence that both of these objectives are possible. The scale of the project is so big that the region could incubate a whole new industry around the conversion of slurry to clean water and new products.

  • Carbon Sequestration and the Creation of a Working Landscape. Once deep soils and ground cover are established, the next stage will involve creating a working landscape through a series of successional stages. This will include a regional reforestation initiative, which has already been researched and is in the planning phase.

    It involves new forests, agro-forests and planting short rotation, fast growing woody crops for biomass production for subsequent conversion into fuels and other energy sources. The agro-forests will be models of succession with each stage having unique products and materials of economic value...Carbon sequestration will take place in the soils and in long-lived orchard and forest trees.

  • Creating a Renewable Energy Future. Suitable Appalachian wind sites already have been discovered that can provide competitive sources of energy.

    The drawback to wind energy is that it must be backed up by alternative standing stocks of energy. However, if it is paired with another renewable energy source like woody biomass from willows and poplars, a viable energy system can be developed. Land to support the woody biomass production is available. Woody biomass can be used for generating electricity, for refining into fuels, and for manufacturing a wide range of products ranging from plastics to polymers and adhesives.

  • Institutions and a Shared Ownership Culture. A multi-phase institutional model can cover operations at scales ranging from a watershed to an entire region. There are three broad steps: philanthropic, capitalized corporations, and cooperatives for divesting the land and expanding services.

Dr. Todd, invented the Eco-Machine for the treatment of sanitary and industrial wastewater with a focus on water reuse and energy efficiency. John Todd Ecological Design (JTED) has designed and installed ecological wastewater treatment systems throughout the world for the past 20 years.

Established to catalyze the vanguard of a global design revolution, the Buckminster Fuller Challenge awards a single $100,000 prize annually to support the development and implementation of a solution with significant potential to solve the world’s most pressing problems in the shortest possible time while enhancing the Earth’s ecological integrity.



Ouch, so biofuels can actually help restore ecosystems? Bizarre! OMG! What a huge blow to the anti-biofuel fanatics.



Don't believe every thing you read. This has less than a 1% chance of ever being fully done. The big mess is there to stay for generations. So will be Alberta's tar sands areas.

There are not quick enough profits in doing that.


------" Don't believe every thing you read. This has less than a 1% chance of ever being fully done. The big mess is there to stay for generations. So will be Alberta's tar sands areas."---------

It is not only possible, it is already being done and has been for the last 20 years. Dr. Todd has simply brought together certain elements and put them into an overall plan. All of the elements are tried methods that are in use and working now. Many of these things have been around for centuries. This isn't the first time that man will have used wind power and planted trees to harvest later for firewood and other products.

As for coal and the Alberta tar sands, think of it this way---up until now, the world's energy policy has been a "hunter gatherer" mentality. We hunt for and use up energy supplies. Well, the energy supplies are disappearing. It's getting harder and harder to hunt up new supplies, old supplies are running out, and we need more and more. Renewable, sustainable, "green", ecofriendly, whatever you want to call the new emerging technologies doesn't matter. What matters is that we can use them, and keep using them indefinitely by recycleing carbon, and making use of solar energy that renews each time the sun rises(wind is a form of solar energy, so is hydropower).

Society is as far as energy is concerned, is moving from "hunter gatherer" mentality to that of "domestication and farming". The same change that allowed man to move out of caves, live in cities and develop civilizations thousands of years ago when that same thinkng was applied to food supply. It was called farming and is the most fundamental development mankind ever made.


Wow, powerful and well put words! Unfortunately we still have some Neanderthals who have a mentality that may be incapable of making the energy strategy transition.


LMAO----I'm sure that Cro-magnons had Neanderthals that called them wimps and sissys and treehuggers, and anything less than Mammouth hunting was effeminate......

Just finish hugging your tree...................then wack 'em over the head with it.


Wetdog, Your post relating hunter/gatherer behavior to fossil fuel use, and green energy to farming is something I will be using in later conversations on this matter. Good stuff!

Alysha De Finsterhaven

Humans will never go to the moon either, nor will they ever land a spacecraft on Mars. Not enough profit in it, eh?

The big mess is in your head. A lack of imagination, a lack of talent, a lack of intelligence? Who is to say?


Please come join me. Everyone else seems to want to stay in the cave and throw rocks.

Breaking The Chains.

MSN groups.(won't let me put on the link)


BTW Alysha---there is PLENTY of profit in alternative fuels!!! You create something from nothing, raw materials that are thrown away or burned currently, or else are simply there, everyday, or everytime the wind blowns---and create a product that is identical or does all the same things with the things that everyone wants and needs, and are expensive and getting more expensive everyday. WHAT could be a better market prospect????

T. Boone Pickens has made more money than anyone at predicting energy futures. He is currently constructing the largest wind farm in the world. It will produce 5 Gw of electricity--(the largest three reactor nuclear plant in the country, Palo Verde, only produces a total of 3.8 Gw from all three reactors).

You can make a very safe that Pickens is not doing this because there is no profit in it I'm sure.

Hairdryers and video games want electricity, they don't care where it comes from.


No doubt that there is more effort / cost required for renewable at the beginning. Technology will advance just like it did in farming. Excellent coorelation by Wetdog.


Wetdog: you have used a nice analogy. Indeed the transformation in planet Earth's energy resources is an emergence from the cave. And into the (literal) sunlight. I think when we look back in a few decades - we'll see that the opportunity to do so has been around for a long while. There have been however certain Cro-Magnons and Luddite power brokers who, knowing the way out of the cave, chose to keep their tribes in the dark. And thus, power in their tiny hands.

Those days are rapidly ending. Mass manipulation of information, technology and those who would deliver it to us - is being revealed daily. Eventually those tiny hands will be called to answer for their actions - and that will be embarrassing.

BTW, ever notice how those testosterone enriched Mammoth hunters would "dance" around the carcass at night's end? Guess they didn't know real hunters don't dance.


-------" Guess they didn't know real hunters don't dance."----------

SURE we do. AFTER we make the ethanol.


------"I think when we look back in a few decades - we'll see that the opportunity to do so has been around for a long while."---------

One decade is MORE than enough time. Most of the major changes can be made in less than 5 years, with a minimum of expense and disruption to current systems. Everything we need is right here, right now--no development of pie in the sky technology needed.

And we don't need to wait for corrupt politicians or anything else.

Ask me how on Breaking The Chains (MSN Groups)

Er, don't you mean "consume" the ethanol?


LOL, well, we gotta make it before we can consume it---its a renewable resource you know---LMAO

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