Half the world’s population is dependent upon a wood, coal, bark, charcoal, grass or even dried dung for fuel for cooking their daily meals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). They also report, as a consequence, that we are now losing a staggering 28,000 acres per day in countries like Africa, Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and India. Countries such as Haiti and Nepal have less than two percent of their original forests remaining.
Cooking fires pollute the atmosphere at significant levels that contribute to global warming and the greenhouse effect. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, a leading cause in global warming (www.eia.doe.gov). This same government agency states that ten percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from biomass burning (cooking fires).
The average cooking fire produces as much air pollution as an automobile engine, with a great deal more carbon, a substance seven times more warming to the earth, since carbon absorbs sunlight and releases heat. A single gram of carbon warms the earth’s atmosphere equally as much as a 1500 watt heater running for 168 hours.
Consider this: If half the world’s population cooks with carbon-based fuel (three billion people), with ten people using each cooking fire, there are one hundred million cooking fires per meal. Each cooking fire produces as much carbon pollution as an automobile. Had all of these people used renewable energy sources for cooking rather than wood, the resulting positive effect on the environment would be the same as removing one hundred million automobiles from the equation. There are only an estimated 600 million passenger cars worldwide (roughly one car per eleven people). This result would be in addition to halting the loss of our forests since the cooking fuel would no longer be needed.
Cooking fires and smoke (containing, carbon monoxide, particles, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides, benzene, dioxin, formaldehyde, styrene, methylene chloride and butadiene) contribute to:
1. Lung disease: pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, cataracts, cancers, heart disease, high blood
2. Eye disease: Cataracts, injury from sparks and cinders;
3. Burns and Scalding: Children falling into cooking fires or pots of boiling liquid.
Cooking fires are usually located in the huts rather than outside, resulting in family members inhaling the smoke with all its toxic fumes — which is equivalent to smoking three or more packs of cigarettes per day. The indoor air pollution that results from burning solid fuels kills more than 1.6 million people, mostly women and children, each year. This works out to more than three people per minute. It is a higher death toll than that caused by malaria!
In addition to the serious heath challenges, deaths, bodily injuries and devastating impact on our environment from cooking fires, about twenty percent of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water and about fifty percent lacks adequate sanitation. “In many developing countries, rivers downstream of large cities are little cleaner than open sewers. Levels of suspended solids in Asia’s rivers, for example, almost quadrupled since the late 1970s and rivers typically contain four times the world average and twenty times OECD levels. The fecal coliform count in Asia’s rivers is fifty times higher than the WHO guidelines. People using such water for washing, bathing or drinking are at high risk. In Latin America as a whole, only about two per cent of sewage receives any treatment. Worldwide, polluted water is estimated to affect the health of about 1.2 billion people and to contribute to the death of about 15 million children under five every year (ICWE 1992).”
The solution to all of these grim facts is solar cookers:
1. Solar ovens eliminate the need to spend precious resources on fuel for fires.
2. They drastically reduce deforestation by eliminating the need for wood fuel.
3. Solar ovens are pollution free so they do not harm humans or the environment.
4. Solar cooking frees women and children from the laborious task of wood gathering.
5. Solar cookers can also pasteurize water, and sterilize medical instruments.
Solar ovens are the simplest solution to a very serious problem, but who will step forward and help implement a plan to get these ovens into the hands of those who need them? Who will finance it? Our Government can give well over 800 billion dollars of Americans’ tax money to banks for a so-called “bailout” so they can then pay themselves millions in bonuses. But they let millions of people die because there is no return on their investment. If anything is to be accomplished, it has to start with us first. Learn about sun ovens and start cooking with the sun.
Learn the history of solar ovens, FAQ, how to build your own solar oven, discover the consumers reports and best prices:http://www.sunovenchef.com> Solar Sun Ovens Douglas C. Hoover; CEO of Aquamedia Corp, a free-lance writer and author. Designed and constructed over 2,000 waterfalls for 30 years in southern California. How-to books, tapes, digital design programs, photo and video gallery.