Tag Archives: MIT


Can the Gates-ian approach to treating infectious disease work to alleviate energy poverty?

It occurs to us that Mr. Bill Gates’ description above of how the market treats (or not) infectious diseases could easily apply to energy poverty and the 3 billion people who depend on biomass as their primary fuel. For one, the socio-economics of the victims are similar. Second, there is no natural market for clean cookstoves.

So, could a Gates-ian approach to combating infectious disease work for poverty alleviation? Maybe, but there are major, maybe irreconcilable differences, between the two.

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Energy efficiency: what Coca Cola’s World Cup video can teach us

While we wait for Coca Cola to help us produce the perfect video that tells the story of energy-efficiency-technology-and-policies-solutions-to-energy-poverty, (they can help us find a better name, too!) we’ve compiled four slideshows recently published in the New York Times that we think help visualize the energy hunger/energy obesity world we live in.

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Can Haiti be the new Katrina?

What will it take?

What will it take to tip the scale in favor of a global crash program to swap out three-stones-and-a-pot for energy-efficient stoves, kilns, and sustainable alternative biofuels?

Will Haiti be to bioenergy what Katrina was to climate change?

How long before Al Gore, Angelina, or Bono take on bionergy as the next big inconvenient truth? The Charcoal Project’s intelligence services tell us there is already a film in the works.  Will Bono embrace the rocket stove onstage to his fan’s delight?

Perhaps it will be the lure of a multi-billion dollar global market in carbon offsets from stoves, kilns, and briquettes programs that will do the trick. Or maybe it will be the on-the-ground realities of  implementing REDD that will undo the Gordian knot.

And the point is…?

Actually, there are four points and they boil down to this: Continue reading

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MIT's Amy Smith: Visionary, inventor, genius.

Speaking at TED a few years ago, Amy Smith, the MIT professor and McArthur Genius Award recipient, made a compelling case for the widespread introduction of simple technologies that could solve major environmental, public health, and poverty problems in developing countries. Her bio on the TED page sums it up best: Invent cheap, low-tech devices that use local resources, so communities can reproduce her efforts and ultimately help themselves. Smith hatches her ideas at D-Lab, the MIT unit responsible for coming up with some of the coolest technological fixes for two thirds of the world’s population. If her ideas are … Continue reading


Hello charcoal world!

Charcoal. You may not think much about it. But if you care about public health, poverty alleviation, and the environment, then it’s a big deal. Why? Because more than two billion people use wood, charcoal, dung or agricultural resides as primary fuel for their cooking and heating needs, leading to significant health, economic and environmental consequences. Consider these stats presented by MIT’s Amy Smith: Almost 2 million deaths each year are caused by breathing smoke from indoor cooking fires [1] Respiratory infections are the leading cause of death of young children worldwide.[2] An estimated 50 billion hours are spent collecting … Continue reading

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