Tuesday, June 29, 2010

LBL, Wood Stoves and Ethiopia

I just received a really interesting link to a piece about a new wood stove design developed at Lawrence Berkeley Lab in Berkeley, California that's having a positive impact for Ethiopians in reducing deforestation and pollution.

Full article:

What does the European Climate Exchange in London have to do with the rural Yaya Gulelle district in Ethiopia?

Everything—if all goes well in some test chambers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory this summer.

Ethiopia has experienced severe deforestation in the last century. Its natural forest cover has plummeted from 35 percent at the start of the 20th century to just 3 percent today. While agricultural practices, including coffee production, are one of the main causes, collecting wood for cooking fuel is also a major contributing factor. About 80 percent of the population still uses traditional three-stone fires to prepare meals, a highly inefficient and polluting method of cooking. The average household uses 11 kg of wood-equivalent per day, or 4 metric tons annually, according to World Vision. And Ethiopia is hardly unique in this regard: according to the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, more than half the world’s population—or about 3 billion people—cooks with open fires or rudimentary stoves.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop

Last week I attended "Sustainability Across the Curriculum for Campus Leaders" workshop offered by AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). There were 35 of us including attendees from Iceland, Tasmania, and United Arab Emirates. Led by Geoff Chase and Peggy Barlett, (editors of Sustainability on Campus), the stories from this gathering gave a great insider's view of the challenges and opportunities of incorporating sustainability education in college and university courses.

From the two days we spent at San Diego State University, I take away the importance of giving the "stakeholders" (i.e., professors, staff, and students) the tools for developing their own materials, rather than feeling compelled to provide content expertise. Many of the exercises we did both individually and as a group delved into gaining new perspectives on sustainability topics and the importance of place as a way to provide context for sustainability topics. Another key aspect is the importance of reflection-- to have the time to digest new information and to "incubate" ideas for later implementation. In working with colleges and universities to develop sustainability plans, timing and pacing are essential in order for initiatives to be received and eventually implemented.

This is a great workshop for those interested in exploring ways of incorporating sustainability education into courses and to explore ways of establishing alliances both on campus and with external organizations.