06/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated 4 days ago

Albert Bates on the Great Change

Recently I was privileged to spend some time in Belize with Albert Bates, co-founder of The Farm in Tennessee, the Global Ecovillage Network, a prolific author and a visionary for our times. I can honestly say that few people have inspired me as he has of the urgent necessity to return to the basics of caring for ourselves and our Mother Earth.

I wrote about the workshop in "Life lessons on Maya Mountain" and "From one jungle to another: A modern-day pioneer."

I was also able to do a brief three-part interview with Albert, which I've just edited and uploaded to YouTube. In Part I, he discusses what he calls The Great Change -- the inevitable shift to a society less dependent on petroleum and other resources that are approaching their natural limits.

"Can we have a transition that's graceful and fun, and can we create a society that comes after that's better than the one that was before?" Bates asks. "That's a matter of some debate -- some people believe that won't be the case, but I believe that it is possible." His book The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook discusses this theme in depth and gives practical solutions, which he discusses in this interview.

Since The Esperanza Project, my new media initiative, is focused on the sustainability movement in Latin America, in Part II, I asked him to discuss the lessons he's learned in his travels in the south. Some of his answers are surprising.

In Part III, Bates discusses his new book, The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change, he discusses the potential of a biological technology called biochar as a source of clean energy, a rich soil supplement and a powerful carbon sequestration device.