EUGENE, OR – Environmental, health and engineering experts across Oregon will discuss the different impacts of fuels and cooking worldwide at the inaugural Spark showcase, to be held at the University of Oregon (UO) on Friday, May 17.
The event, hosted by UO’s Global Oregon, brings together designers and researchers from local NGOs and universities. Spark will feature experts from Aprovecho Research Center, Create, InStove, Maple Microdevelopment, Stove Team International, StoveTec, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Oregon Health & Science University.
“Oregon happens to have a wealth of experts in the field of clean cookstove technology and design. Spark is a way for the university and the public to discuss the serious implications of traditional fuels and cooking in a global perspective,” says UO Vice Provost for International Affairs Dennis Galvan.
An astounding 2.5 billion people around the world still use crude open fires fueled by coal, wood and charcoal to cook meals. In the rural developing world, over 90% of total energy consumption is wood or other biomass fuel.
“Addressing the problems of developing countries and rural areas worldwide can be accomplished by combining the expertise of university scientists with the field knowledge of humanitarian researchers,” says Dean Still, executive director of Aprovecho Research Center. “It is time to come together to make smart decisions about cookstoves.”
A 2012 study, conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, concluded that household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels kills 4 million people annually around the world. Millions more are sickened from lung cancer and disease, child lower respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, and cataracts associated with household air pollution (HAP)
Household pollution particularly affects women and children, as mothers typically have their children with them while cooking—more than 4,000 women and children die per day from upper respiratory disease related to indoor cooking smoke. Almost 800,000 children under age five die annually from daily exposure to cooking smoke.
In many countries, much of the native forest cover has been stripped to support charcoal production, and in others reliance on wood fuel for cooking can lead to increased pressures on local forests and natural resources. Black carbon, which results from incomplete combustion, is estimated to contribute the equivalent of 25 to 50 percent of carbon dioxide warming globally.
“Half of humanity cooks their food daily on biomass fires, and the cumulative impacts of this reality on women's lives, human health, environmental degradation, and the spiral of poverty are enormous,” said Fred Colgan, executive director of InStove. “People are dying from diseases that are completely preventable. InStove’s stoves reduce the emissions and the demand for wood and charcoal, which takes the burden off of local forests and protects the cooks and children from the smoke.”
The inaugural keynote speaker for Spark will be Peter Scott, designer and CEO of BURN Design Lab. Scott is credited with the design and construction of nearly half a million stoves in Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Kenya. Moreover, BURN Design Lab is currently working on the development of three new stoves with international organizations such as Mercy Corps, ETHOS and The Paradigm Project.
“Reliance on traditional wood and charcoal stoves is ravaging forests and bankrupting millions of families in the developing world,” says Scott. “To really tackle this problem it’s going to take an army of engineers, designers, MBAs, and do-gooders. We need to educate and inspire the millions of people, both young and old, that are looking for an opportunity to change the world, that stoves might be one of the best ways to do it.”
Spark will feature four panels discussions with experts, researchers and beneficiaries on issues of climate change, deforestation, social entrepreneurship, health, indoor pollution, and stove science.
For a full schedule and more details, visit thesparkinitiative.com.
About the Spark Initiative—Developing solutions for people and the environment
Headed by the University of Oregon’s Global Oregon and of Office of International Affairs, the Spark Initiative seeks to unite a community of parties interested in cookstoves and their implications, attract students to research and internship opportunities within cookstove businesses and nonprofit networks, and generate new partnerships between members of the Oregon University System and local experts.
About Global Oregon
Global Oregon is a university-wide strategic initiative to enhance internationalization in the student experience, in research, and in our outreach to the state and the world. Like all strategic initiatives, it blurs the boundaries among teaching, research, and community service. It establishes new synergies among all three to develop new modes of learning, and new ways for the university to fund itself and give back to the community. Global Oregon is deliberately cross-regional and interdisciplinary, drawing together UO expertise on every world region and from many academic domains to address truly global challenges and to internationalize the student experience, and by extension, the state.
By Chakris Kussalanant
Director of Marketing and Communications
Office of International Affairs