There is a very good story in the NYT about an initiative being launched today to finance clean-burning cookstoves for the developing world. I have written about the pernicious health impacts of burning biomass in open fires and the burden of black carbon deposition that so badly exacerbates global warming. The NY Times reports “Nearly three billion people in the developing world cook their meals on primitive indoor stoves fueled by crop waste, wood, coal and dung. Every year, according to the United Nations, smoke from these stoves kills 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, from lung and heart diseases and low birth weight.”
Hillary Clinton announced funding today to kickstart the effort to reach millions of households with improved stoves. She said “By upgrading these dirty stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved. Clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.”
It is also important to note that high-impact, low-tech solutions like solar cookers have been around for a number of years – without adequate support, as yet, from the development community. Biochar cookstoves are another, newer approach with tremendous potential.
This initiative is a very useful one, and one that should be ramped up quickly. In the context of climate change, it can diminish an enormous driver of warming, black carbon. In the context of public health, it’s a no-brainer. Not incidentally, the NYT article discusses why we are so late in getting to this problem and its obvious solutions. (For more on soot and cookstoves, see this material from the NYT.)