May 5, 2012

We Are The World

We are the world....

Thanks to a massive $105-million campaign by the U.S. government, with money from Canada and dozens of other nations, the effort to produce clean cooking stoves has suddenly become the most fashionable cause in foreign aid.


But now there are hard questions about whether the campaign is actually benefiting poor people. [...] The randomized trial in India found little benefit from the new stoves, no reduction in air pollution, and no improvement in the health of their users.

Emphasis on "we".

Despite the new study, the U.S. campaigners are determined to push ahead.

(Related pointless feely goodness. )

h/t Anthony

Posted by Kate at May 5, 2012 12:53 PM

I have a really clean stove right inside my house! It doesn't even need a chimney! It runs off electricity. I have another one on my back deck running of propane. Even if your electricity came from the dirtiest coal on earth it would be a cleaner way to cook than burning wood or animal dung.

Posted by: minuteman at May 5, 2012 1:15 PM

Radio ads are on all the time for this program here in California, very annoying.

Self promotion for the directors and the accolades they will receive from their liberal friends is the entire point of these programs, only intentions count, outcomes are irrelevant. So with that in mind...

"It's not that I'm not interested, it's just that I don't care" - Homer Simpson

Posted by: Philanthropist at May 5, 2012 1:35 PM

Back in the day before us hillbillies had electricity, we discovered this thing called a chimney. I notice that a lot of neighbors had them too. We chose not to die of lung disease.

Quote "The “black carbon” from old cooking stoves is a major contributor to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

What in hell are the idiots talking about? They're burning crap from their re-incarnated ancestor. The black part is the good stuff that isn't CO2.

Posted by: Scar at May 5, 2012 1:37 PM

The problem is not the stoves it's the simple fact that western civilisation abandoned open fires with the smoke exiting by a hole in the roof or seeping throught the thatch was abandoned during the Elizabethan age.

These 3rd world folk don't need stoves so much as stove pipes.


Posted by: sasquatch at May 5, 2012 1:40 PM

Yeah but they are cooking with animal turds. Since that's gross, we need to use the excuse of global warming to stop it.

Posted by: jg at May 5, 2012 1:46 PM

Well! This draws on research "led by top scholars at Harvard University"! Known to some as BS U.

Yeah, the Great White Massas know best for the poor unenlightened darkies.

G.D. liberals.

Posted by: John Lewis at May 5, 2012 1:51 PM

As mentioned elsewhere on SDA the ideology of environmental "Forwardism" is completely devoid of pragmatism. Dogma rules.

Posted by: Neo at May 5, 2012 1:51 PM

"A new study has found awkward evidence that casts doubt on the much-hyped campaign."

This could be the lead paragraph in every story about anything the left or greens want to do to save anything.

Posted by: Ford Prefect at May 5, 2012 2:01 PM

re. link #2 - this eyeglasses thing - no, you probably can't really donate your old frames and help a kid in Ghana - is all to the good because bad eyesight is a bourgeois construct and glasses are counterrevolutionary. Saith Theodore Dalrymple:

"(An interesting history could be written of the murder or imprisonment during the twentieth century of people who wore glasses, merely because they wore glasses. Communists in particular were inclined to believe that people who wore glasses were their enemies, because – despite their own materialist conception of history, according to which the driving force of history is economic relations rather than ideas – shortsightedness is particularly prevalent among intellectuals, and intellectuals, at least outside the humanities of departments of western universities, have ideas that might cast doubt on the ultimate truth of communist ideology: a backhanded tribute to the fact that ideas ultimately rule the world. An interesting exception among eyeglass-phobic dictators was Macias Nguema, the first, democratically elected, president of Equatorial Guinea, subsequently overthrown by his nephew, the current president, who killed or drove into exile a third of the population, and who had a special animus against those who wore eyeglasses. His animus probably arose more from his uncertain personal claims to intellectual distinction than from the mixture of paranoia and gimcrack ideas about neo-colonialism that he picked up third-hand, which was the nearest he came to ideology.)"

Posted by: 1/32 non-white Mamba at May 5, 2012 2:12 PM

From TFA:

Many stoves fell into disrepair or disuse because families could not afford the cost of repairs and maintenance.

This is a four-year study. How cheap does a stove have to be that it needs repairs/maintenance that soon? We had a wood stove at our cottage that had been used for more than 50 years before we finally got rid of it. I don't ever remember the stove needing a penny of repairs; I think we replaced the grate once. The only maintenance I ever recall doing was cleaning out the ashes, although I think my dad would check out the chimney every couple of years.

Oh, wait. There's that word again: "chimney"

Posted by: KevinB at May 5, 2012 2:19 PM

Something I haven't seen discussed anywhere is the minor and ignored fact that Human beings have been cooking over small smokey wood/dung fires since the time of Neanderthal, ~400,000 years ago. Possibly as far back as 750,000. In short, crappy, smokey little indoor fires are -part- of being human, and have been since -before- Modern Man evolved. We came in about 250,000 years ago.

So maybe, possibly, might be, all the claimed health issues aren't being caused just by wood smoke. Seeing as how we evolved with it. Just sayin'.

Posted by: The Phantom at May 5, 2012 2:44 PM

Good one 1/32nd but the global cooking thing is ominous...kitty wise...

Posted by: syncrodox at May 5, 2012 2:47 PM

yeah, but you just don't get dog done right without a good dung fire, the smokier the better.

Posted by: Bemused at May 5, 2012 2:55 PM

...dungy smokey dog...hhhmmmmmm - Homer Simpson.

Posted by: syncrodox at May 5, 2012 3:05 PM

"While the campaign’s goals are laudable, there’s never been much research into the effectiveness of its efforts in the real world."

And THAT is the problem with ALL the enviro-greenie agenda!

Posted by: dmorris at May 5, 2012 3:16 PM

Phantom - the Neanderthal weren't really indoorsy. Caves was the thing. No evidence whatsoever of house-type structures. Otherwise, you're quite correct. I mean, their fires were epic, and some seem to have lasted centuries, but huts? No.

Posted by: 1/32 non-white Mamba, failed archaeologist at May 5, 2012 3:28 PM

As to the eyeglasses thing, lens grinding is just not that demanding a deal these days, all automated and the machi8nes are not very big either.

Couldn't somebody put some little micro-factories in shipping containers and have these things set up all over the place to produce glasses for the poor b@st@rds in Fragmycanistan or where ever? And God forbid maybe MAKE A BUCK at it too? So they can expand and do it more?

Noooo, that would be CAPITALISM, that would be eeeeeevile.

Somebody kick me awake when these morons catch a clue.

Posted by: The Phantom at May 5, 2012 3:36 PM
"... and it needs to ensure that the results in the real world are as good as they are in the laboratory."
So how are you going to do that - make the whole world laboratory clean? Good luck with that. If you want to continue down this path, build a more durable stove that requires little to no maintenance. This is the "third world" we're talking about - they don't need the hassle of maintaining stuff which needs to be put into earning money or growing food.

And as for the eyeglasses story, thanks for giving me some "feely goodness". I have never bothered donating my old glasses and with my Rx and astigmatism, I see it would be a waste of time and money. Thanks for the eye-opener.

Posted by: MikeM_inMD at May 5, 2012 3:44 PM

1/32 non-white Mamba, failed archaeologist said: "the Neanderthal weren't really indoorsy."

Or so one would think based on the -only- dig sites being in caves. I seem to recall reading that the big difference between Neanderthal cave sites and Human cave sites were that the Humans always built the fire in the exact same place. It was The Fireplace. And it stayed there hundreds of years like you said.

More modern village sites are identified usually by the fireplace and the garbage pit, those being the two places most easily seen whilst digging in the dirt.

Neanderthals by contrast built fires where ever, no particular spot being favored. My pet theory on Neanderthals is they built really crappy lean-to style houses that moved around a whole lot, and their habit of building a fire wherever they happened to be sitting makes it hard to find a non-cave Neanderthal site.

That way when non-cave sites for Neanderthal keep not showing up, I can yell "See?!! Toldja!!!"

Posted by: The Phantom at May 5, 2012 4:51 PM

Phantom, one caveat, though 'humans' may have been cooking w/ open fires and no chimney may be a part of the species long history it doesn't mean it isn't really bad for health.

'Pneumonia, lung cancer, heart disease' are generally fatal diseases of the elder, and not the child-bearing, so evolution wouldn't provide defenses against them.

Remember, after kids, evolution (anthropromorphized) doesn't care about you.

Posted by: lance at May 5, 2012 5:20 PM

Remember, after kids, evolution (anthropromorphized) doesn't care about you.

Yeah, evolution has no room for any wisdom.

Posted by: fiddle at May 5, 2012 5:46 PM

If you sincerely want to improve peoples' lives in poor countries, provide them with coal, natural gas and nuclear electicity generation and modern stoves.

Also provide them with sewage systems.

Why is it that the greenie tranzies (anagram of nazi in there somewhere) want to keep the world's poor, poor?

IT IS A DISGRACE. These people should be taken out and forced to live the way they want the poor to live.

OK I see the anagram tres Nazi.

Posted by: Robert of Ottawa at May 5, 2012 6:07 PM

Kind of pointless when you have no food to cook, since its being used by greennesses for bio fuel.
Where PETA like Meatbots ban eating meat, or exporting it by regulation.
I guess there is always grass.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at May 5, 2012 6:07 PM

Lance, very true.


Let us not forget that much of the evidence being cited in regard to these stove studies is of the "second hand smoke/indoor air pollution" variety, and tends toward the junk side of science. To be taken with a pretty large grain of salt, like glowball warming and gun control.

All I'm saying is if open fires were as bad for our lungs as these guys are making out we'd have all died out 300,000 years ago.

Posted by: The Phantom at May 5, 2012 6:13 PM

Phantom - there are some pretty major Neanderthal fires; not just camping site stuff. I'm dropping right now, but I will look them up later and if there's anything really striking I'll mention it, assuming it's not too too OT. BTW I do consider them "human". In fact, since I'm 2-6% Neanderthal, I might choose to take offense.

Posted by: Black Mamba, 2-6% non homo sapiens sapiens at May 5, 2012 6:51 PM

Well into the twentieth century, a manure and straw was mixed by foot power, allowed to dry, and then cut into oven size bricks and stacked for the coming winter. These were used to heat the home and provide heat for cooking.

This was more common in areas that lacked nearby forested areas.

No doubt the aroma given off by this fuel added to the aroma of freshly baked bread and buns.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at May 5, 2012 7:57 PM

ah, but the great unwashed occupiers want to take us back to those halcyon days of yore, far away from the corruption of modern 'commercial' devices...back to when life was..."nasty, brutish and short"...why is it that hippies with all their anthropology degrees and yearning for simpler times seem to always forget that 'elderly' was around 40 years old, 'venerable' was the almost unheard of age of 50 or maybe 60 and most died by 25 due to infections and diseases that aren't even an inconvenience in a modern industrialized society ?

Posted by: Bemused at May 5, 2012 8:16 PM

Can't remember where I read this, but studies repeatedly show that the most effective thing to do to reduce death among - gee, what's the PC word for people who live in non-permanent shelters without indoor plumbing? - primitive people is help them find clean water (dig a well, put in a pump [manual or otherwise], etc.) and show them what to do with waste water (e.g. don't drink it, don't dump it near your water supply, etc.).

Then the next most effective thing you can do is give them soap.

Why don't they try these two proven methods before worrying about fires?

Posted by: KevinB at May 5, 2012 11:00 PM


Lots of people did live into their 80's in older times - if you survived all the childhood diseases, didn't get killed in battle or childbirth, and had enough to eat, your chances of surviving into your golden years weren't that bad. Heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, cancer - all were pretty much unknown.

Average life expectancy is a bit misleading here. When 1 out of 10 kids died in childbirth, and another four didn't survive to reach age 5, it really skews the statistics. For example, if you were a member of the British aristocracy who lived to be 21, from 1200 to 1700, you could expect to live another 40+ years (excepting the years in the 1300's when the Plague was killing everyone). So, most societies had a few elders around.

Posted by: KevinB at May 5, 2012 11:16 PM

What will poor people cook in these clean ovens?

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at May 6, 2012 12:37 AM

Try books, education, medecine.

Posted by: eastern paul at May 6, 2012 8:45 AM

We use a pressure cooker for multitudes of dishes.
Cooked the regular way....60 minutes
Pressure Cooker.....8 minutes
Now that saves a lot of smoke.
Cheap cuts of meat come out of the pressure cooker tasting better than filet mignon. Blade roast, regular cooking 2-3 hours, pressure cooker 45 min.

Posted by: doowleb at May 6, 2012 9:45 AM