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Cookstoves?

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Climate-change villain and sociopath

I’m not minimizing the fact that inefficient cookstoves in the developing world cause a lot of problems, including lung disease in the women who use them, deforestation, and other important issues. In fact, there’s been a multi-decade effort to introduce more efficient cookstoves into the developing world.

But to hear American leaders talk about cookstoves in Bangladesh and Ethiopia as a primary culprit in global warming is completely fraudulent
.

In the United States, you have massive vehicle emissions, the agricultural industry, the heating and cooling of ever-growing megamansions and large office buildings, a road system designed for environmental inefficiency, etc., etc. These things all lead to gargantuan carbon dioxide emissions.

Not to mention the industry in China and other nations that serve American consumer interests.

And the U.S. is going to focus on an Ethiopian woman cooking injera on her stove.

I guess if there’s no political will to do something about climate change in Washington, we can always blame poor brown people.

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  • wengler

    Step 1: Talk about the benefits of a warming world.

    Step 2: Ignore completely and demonize climate scientists.

    Step 3: Blame overwhelmingly evident warming problem on those least able to fight back.

    Step 4: Cash out and move to the moon.

  • Bravo! Always good to see a new scape-goat enter the field! I hadn’t heard of this one before!

    I wonder where the next scape-goat is going to come from? Cows farting? (Oh wait, that one exists already…)

    • Except cows producing methane is actually a huge cause of climate change.

  • UberMitch

    Ummmmm…Ethiopian food. I highly recommend Meals by Genet on Fairfax in LA.

    • DrDick

      Mama Desta’s Red Sea Restaurant in Chicago.

      • elm

        Aahh. Mama Desta’s! Haven’t been there in nearly 15 years, but I loved it when I was college in Chicago.

        • DrDick

          I think it has been that long for me as well. It was in my neighborhood when I lived in Chicago.

    • rea

      Small portions, though …

    • Malaclypse

      Hasheba in Malden, MA just north of Boston.

  • Slocum

    “The founding members are Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, the U.S. and the UN Environment Programme.”

    “It targets global warming emissions that last only a few days or at most a few years in the atmosphere, namely black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons and methane gas. All together, these three contribute about 33 percent to global warming emissions. By achieving a clear, measurable success in a relatively short period of time, the coalition hopes to build overwhelming public consensus on the human causes and effects of global warming. That, in turn, should help to build overwhelming support for the kind of long term, coordinated global actions needed to address the problem of carbon dioxide emissions.”

    So this is bullshit?

    • It’s not that it’s bullshit exactly. It’s that those cookstoves make up a very small percentage of that 33%. If the U.S. is serious about doing something about climate change, this can be a tiny step. But I’d say its, oh, about a million times less important than stopping the Keystone XL pipeline or any other oil pipeline.

      There are plenty of reasons to give women access to modernize cookstoves. But to think that this is going to make any appreciable difference in fighting climate change is insane.

      • Slocum

        I was under the impression that it was the 33% in all that was targeted by the coalition, not just cookstoves. That’s what the article says. The title seems to be for click-thrus.

        But you’re right about the overall attitude hypocrisy–actually on the part of Westerners, not just their politicians.

      • friegie

        It’s not that it’s bullshit exactly. It’s that those cookstoves make up a very small percentage of that 33%.

        So what percentage then? This would be great place to buttress an argument with data…

  • jon

    This is a ‘Both/And’ situation, not an ‘Either/Or’. The rate and magnitude that appears to be occurring with Global Warming, means that many people need to be doing many things right now to try to minimize the impacts.

    I haven’t read the referred articles, but it is a little surprising that there isn’t an acknowledgement that burning firewood and dried dung should have very little effect on global warming, as they are rapidly circulating carbons, that tend to have rather low sequestration rates. Of course, the less wood that’s burned, then the more trees that can continue to stand, and extend that aspect of the carbon cycle.

    I think that the primary benefits lie in the realm of reduced eye and respiratory disease, less grueling labor to acquire firewood and to cook (both typically women’s work), better cooked food and less smoke in houses. Of course, forests and scrub that aren’t regularly cleared of small fuelwood may also be more susceptible to fire, in addition to more beneficial outcomes.

    • ajay

      But to hear American leaders talk about cookstoves in Bangladesh and Ethiopia as a primary culprit in global warming is completely fraudulent.

      It’s notable that the linked article includes no examples of any American leader talking about cookstoves anywhere as a primary culprit in global warming. Loomis is being hackish – or, charitably, very sloppy – here.

      I think that the primary benefits lie in the realm of reduced eye and respiratory disease

      Yes. An acquaintance of mine is working for WHO on this, and IIRC it’s one of the top ten causes of worldwide morbidity and mortality. 5% of all deaths annually are linked to indoor air pollution according to the WHO.

      it is a little surprising that there isn’t an acknowledgement that burning firewood and dried dung should have very little effect on global warming, as they are rapidly circulating carbons, that tend to have rather low sequestration rates.

      It’s inefficient combustion, though, which according to the WHO produces quite a bit of methane – a far more potent GHG than CO2. It also produces a lot of black carbon.

      Black carbon is responsible for 16-18% of total global warming activity, second only to CO2 itself; 25% of black carbon pollution is produced by cooking stoves.

      • Glenn

        It’s notable that the linked article includes no examples of any American leader talking about cookstoves anywhere as a primary culprit in global warming.

        Yeah, I couldn’t find that either. And, you know, if a little overselling on the AGW front serves to get support for this program that has so many other health benefits, then fine. If and when this gets pointed to as an argument that we’re doing enough on global warming and don’t need to tackle the bigger issues, then by all means please feel free to launch spitballs at that time.

  • Ken

    Yes, the global warming impact is small. But it’s still OK to support programs to replace the stoves with more efficient ones which use less fuel and don’t fill the house with smoke, right?

    • Of course

    • Trollhattan

      An effort like this, IMHO stands on its own merits and doensn’t require cloaking in side benefits for marketing purposes. If it’s the case more than a billion people cook over an open hearth, giving them access to affordable/free efficient cookstoves has at least three benefits: better health through reduced smoke inhalation, slowing the pace of deforestation, reducing the time and labor spent gathering fuel.

      Environmentally, slowing deforestation seems like the most important benefit. In any case, like distributing bednets to fight malaria, just do it!

      • DrDick

        There are some NGOs actually distributing these because of the health benefits. One of my colleagues has worked on this in Nepal.

      • joe from Lowell

        I’d say just the opposite: pointing out the climate-change benefits of reforms that have other, popular benefits is a good way to promote awareness of climate change, and to reduce opposition to efforts aimed at ameliorating it.

  • This reminds me of an article in the China Daily a while ago blaming Uighurs for the smog in Beijing. Uighurs are the Turkic Muslim ethnic group in western China, who are at the bottom of the ethnic hierarchy in China. Beijing is filled with Uighur restaurants, most noted for their lamb kabobs. Apparently some government office blamed the charcoal lamb kabob grills for Beijing’s pollution. And not, you know, the coal powered furnaces that heated most buildings in the city at the time, a few million cars, factories in the surrounding countryside, etc…

    • lexilis

      Same in northern Thailand. The smoke from widespread illegal burning of hillside vegetation every year at this time is a huge health problem for cities like Chiang Mai. The local Thai authorities (an utterly corrupt and pathetic lot) place the blame on…yes, of course: the proliferation of outdoor Korean barbecue restaurants.

  • joe from Lowell

    Did you even read the article you linked to?

    One of the three primary warming culprits that the working group, including founding member Bangladesh, is going to focus on is black carbon.

    I expect this type of button-pushing misreporting from National Review, not LGM.

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