Clean Stoves Can Save Lives

The World Health Organization reports that around three billion people cook and heat their homes with an open fire that burns biomass such as wood and coal. That’s HALF of all people in the world! Nearly two million people die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution from household solid fuel use. Eighty five percent of those people who die are women and children.

Those are staggering numbers! How many of us in the developed world knew about this? I mean the last time I lit a wood fire was on a recreational camping trip. Not to eat my next meal.

You may wonder why so many people burn wood, coal, or dung for heating and cooking. Simply it’s because these are often the only resources available and affordable. People use what they have to survive. Oftentimes they go to great lengths, like walking many miles, to get fuel such as wood.

Fortunately there are clean stoves that can greatly reduce the poisons that are emitted when heating and cooking with biomass. These stoves are based on the Rocket Stove.  It’s design helps combust all the material that are being burned. That way it doesn’t end up in the air.

One example is the StoveTec Stove developed by the Aprovecho Research Center.  They have models that burn wood, coal, and pasteurize water. They range in costs from approximately $90 to $115 USD. But you can buy one for someone in need for only $15.

For some of us in the US these stoves could be a great alternative to the gas grill you have out back. Do your part in reducing the demand for natural gas in the US. Use waste wood instead and put the remaining charcoal in your soil for the garden. Plus you can put fewer greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and help slow global warming.

I’m going to get one for someone who really needs a clean stove and try it out myself too. Join me!

Tech for Good 001

The Aprovecho Institutional Rocket Stove (Video)

This is cross posted from Thanks to them for allowing me to post it here.

Create Green-Collar Jobs in Orange County

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of seeing Van Jones speak. He co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and is founder and president of Green For All. He spoke convincingly of a future of increased equality and how one of the roads to this future is green jobs. Green-collar jobs are employment in the environmental or agricultural sectors of the economy. [Source: Wikipedia] But they also include any work that will help transform our society into a more environmentally sustainable one.

One way our local government leaders could participate in this national movement is to sign the Green Jobs Pledge. Its goal is to "rebuild American competitiveness and environmental leadership by growing a green economy that fights global warming, pollution and poverty at the same time." Here are the five steps this pledge asks our leaders to agree to:

  1. Commit to Action
  2. Create a Green-collar Jobs Taskforce
  3. Identify Goals and Assess Opportunities
  4. Create a Local Action Plan
  5. Evaluate, Leverage and Grow

So far the the U.S. Conference of Mayors has agreed with Green For All that this pledge is good idea. Mayor Martin Chávez of Albuquerque, New Mexico and County Executive Ron Sims of King County, Washington have put there name on it. You can download the Green Jobs Pledge Packet here. [PDF]

Let’s discuss ways we can build a green economy from the ground up, and see if we can get our elected officials to take the pledge.

This post was first published on

Experimental Architecture to Save the Planet

Another informative blog post from Tree Hugger. This one about the movie Garbage Warrior. WATCH this trailer.

What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you’re renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing. For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of “Earthship Biotecture” by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes. Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most. Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century.

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

Tell Jim Rogers to Cancel Cliffside!

Recently Duke Energy received permission from the State of North Carolina to build a new coal fired power plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. Despite the facts that this new plant could be a major polluter of CO2, mercury, and evaporate 21 million gallons of water each day. You can find all the details here on NC Warn’s website.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers claims a giant coal-fired power plant would be “good for the environment.” This is nothing but green scamming. Watch this short video about his claims and the facts.

“Stopping this new plant is the best thing you can do to stop global warming.” – Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA’s Goddard Institute

When you’re done contact Mr. Rogers and tell him to cancel Cliffside!

Jim Rogers, CEO
c/o Duke Energy
PO Box 1090
Charlotte, NC 28201-1090

North Carolina Drought 2008

By now the bad drought the South Eastern United States is experiencing is old news. We are already in stage two [PDF] water restrictions here in Orange County, North Carolina. But today I found a map that blew my mind. North Carolina looks like the worst hit overall than any other state right now. Check this out.
US Drought Map
via: U.S. Drought Monitor, University Nebraska – Lincoln

See that state that is almost completely covered in dark oranges and reds? Yep that’s North Carolina. We’ve got a bad drought going on. Not to belittle other states around us who are suffering too like Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. So now check out the close up.
North Carolina Drought Map
Here are the NC archives of this map since 2001.

Soon we may go into stage three water restrictions. But I feel good about our local PUBLICLY owned water and sewer system. Its managed by OWASA. They have planed well and so far we’re not feeling it too bad. I chalk that up to the progressive people in our county that have cared about conservation LONG before it was mandatory. Some real wisdom to be inspired and motivated by.

I found these maps at the NC Drought Management Advisory Council website. Thank you! Such a good way to spend our tax dollars. A website that is actually USEFUL!