Written by Gordon Merrick, 3L at Vermont Law School and FLSN Co-President

A recent announcement by the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) shows just how intersectional our food and energy systems are. Three billion people around the world still depend on cooking stoves fueled by biomass, which poses huge public health issues. In addition to indoor air quality issues, these fuel sources require substantial time, energy, and precious funds. These public health considerations are intensified by deforestation that occurs due to the necessity of these fuels. ISES’s announcement of the winner of their innovation-forcing challenge is exciting not only because it shows that there are people working to solve this problem, but that the international world is taking notice.

The reduced need for biomass to cook food increases the immediate health of those doing the cooking (women and children) and leaves the world’s forests to store carbon and water and provide food and resources to local populations. The world is changing at an incredibly rapid pace, and it is these simple technologies that will support the world’s exponentially growing electricity needs. Freeing up money and time will help address systemic issues that developing nations face. It will allow women and children to focus on what repeatedly is shown to improve quality of life: participating in local commerce and obtaining an education.

In sum, this announcement shows how momentous changes can come from simple ideas. Understanding how rural communities live and operate provides opportunities for residents to better their lives and pushes the world to address our changing climate.  

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