The New Yorker covered Stove Camp before. Run by the Aprovecho Research Center, it is a week-long exploration of low tech, high efficiency cook stoves that can be constructed anywhere from locally available materials. The idea, say proponents, is not just to provide low cost, efficient stoves and cut air pollution and deforestation, but to also seed thousands of micro-entrepreneurs around the world who can push sustainable economic development forward.
Others, however, have argued that the appropriate technology model of stove development is too slow and hard to scale up. Instead, they say, we should be looking at building economies of scale and leveraging corporate money to distribute ready-made stoves manufactured on an industrial scale.
I've argued before that this may be a false choice.
The need is indeed urgent enough that any fast injection of big bucks to rapidly improve stoves being used around the world should probably be welcomed. But as the recent financial crisis has shown, we can't rely on large corporate infrastructure being around for ever—nor can we assume that the big players will continue to fund worthy programs if their priorities happen to change.
So whether or not high-tech, industrially manufactured stoves continue to be shipped—we would be smart to continue investing in the lower cost, grassroots alternative. In the latest episode of Peak Moment TV, Janaia Donaldson pays a visit to the Aprovecho Research Center to look at their work.
And she suggests we may well have a need for such skills in the industrialized economies before too long too.