Classroom Resources: To Build a (Better) Fire

To Build a (Better) Fire
By Burkhard Bilger

Summer 2011 / Vol. 12 No. 2

Read the article

Discussion Questions

  1. One quoted source claimed, “Kill a million and a half people, and nobody gives a damn.  But become part of this big climate thing, and everyone comes knocking at your door.”  What does this person mean by that?  What are the pros and cons of determining an issue’s “importance” based on its relationship to key focal issues, such as climate change?
  2. What criteria need to be met for a stove to be considered “good”?  What are the social and/or environmental rationales for including each of these criteria?
  3. What is gasification?  How does it differ from combustion?  Why might gasification be environmentally better than combustion?
  4. What are the challenges associated with developing technological solutions to help the world’s poor?  In principle or in practice, how might these challenges be overcome?

Websites for Further Information

Biomass Cooking Stoves in the News

Peer-reviewed Literature (in addition to the citations listed in the article)

  • Mishra, V.K., R.D. Retherford, and K.R. Smith.  1999.  Biomass cooking fuels and prevalence of tuberculosis in India.  International Jounral of Infectious Diseases 3(3): 119-129.
  • Bhattacharya, S.C., and P. Abdul Salam.  2002.  Low greenhouse gas biomass options for cooking in the developing countries.  Biomass and Bioenergy 22(4): 305-317.
  • Peabody, J.W., T.J. Riddell, K.R. Smith, Y. Liu, Y. Zhao, J. Gong, M. Milet, and J.E. Sinton.  2005.  Indoor air pollution in rural China: cooking fuels, stoves, and health status.  Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health 60(2): 86-95.

Key Concepts

  • Africa
  • wood fires
  • smoke
  • cooking stoves
  • air pollution
  • global warming
  • cultural traditions
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