Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cooking with Sunlight: Simple Solution to Complex Tree Deforestation Problem?

 Will cooking with sunlight in lieu of firewood make a dent in the loss of forest trees? It is known that tree deforestation had been a problem for decades and continues unabated up to this day. Will solar cooking make a difference in the efforts of various sectors to halt or slow down forest destruction?

Tree deforestation is markedly visible in third world countries where forests are lost continuously at the rate of millions of hectares every year. The impact of this loss is reflected in lives of people who continue to wallow in poverty, poor health and difficulty in pursuing a sustainable livelihood. For this reason alone, promotion and adoption of solar cooking must be pursued.

This article will attempt to explain how solar cooking can help preserve the forest and immensely improved life in the third world countries.

Relevant observations and facts.

1.      Forests in the developing countries are shrinking by millions of hectares per year partly because nearly half the world's wood supply is used as fuel.
2.      Indoor smoke pollution (from fire wood) now ranks 8th in health burden worldwide (lost years of healthy life), and ranks fourth in the "least-developed" countries (which make up about 40% of the world population) according to the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2002
3.      UNICEF estimates that 60% of rural families and 23% of urban families in developing countries are without safe water. Boiling guarantees safe drinking water and this cannot be done because of scarce firewood fuel
4.        In some villages in the third world countries, people depend on their livelihood from selling fire wood collected from the forest. Gradually they find shortage of fire wood and forest resources are fast being depleted.
5.     Studies reveal that the poorest urban households spend 20-40% of their income meeting daily cooking requirements, and the poorer the home, the higher the percentage of income spent. Currently with a total of more than 1.4 million sets of solar cookers in use, China is the number one country in the world promoting solar cookers.

 How solar cooker can help ease tree deforestation

1.      Solar cookers can replace fire wood for cooking food. Research has found that 36% of the world's fuel wood needs (350 million tones of wood per year, according to UNICEF) could be replaced by solar box cookers, saving 500 kg of wood per family per year, equivalent to millions of trees. Solar cookers saved an estimated 50 -60% of firewood the poorest urban household use.
2.      Promotion of solar cooker should be widespread with emphasis on poor countries. Efforts in this direction are already very visible but more is still to be done.
3.      Research on solar cooking must be intensified. Unfortunately, growing access to cheap coal and petroleum has overshadowed this solar research in the last century. Fossil fuel subsidies in the poorest countries have also slowed the development of solar cooking technology. There was little incentive for serious research on solar technology for cooking until recent decades when firewood became a rapidly diminishing resource and an increasingly expensive commodity.

During the last decades solar cookers have been increasingly used as a solution to the firewood problem. And because of this, fewer trees are chopped down, thus reducing deforestation and the advance of desertification, while at the same time guarding against global warming.

The rapid deforestation in many areas and the expanding of carbon-based atmospheric cloud are good reasons for a massive global effort to spread this technology. Hundreds of millions of families who still cook using wood, dung and charcoal should be encouraged to use solar cookers.

 Did you know that the world’s largest solar kitchen is located in India and serves approximately 20,000 people a day?

Please visit our InformativeSolar Article page for more practical tips, simplified application guide and established solar benefits.

Author’s Box

 Jacinto Demonteverde, Jr., the owner, is a strong advocate of solar power adoption. He writes practical articles to keep established and prospective solar users well informed. Visit him at: You are welcome to republish or reprint this article free of charge provided the content remains unchanged including the Author’s Box. No permission is needed.

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