Contrary to conventional wisdom, the use of fossil fuels for household cooking and heating may make more environmental sense for the estimated 2 billion rural poor in the world, according to a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley.
Because they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuels have been largely dismissed as a viable alternative for the one-third of the world’s population who now use coal and local biomass - including wood, crop residues and dung - for cooking and heating, said Kirk R. Smith, professor and chair of environmental health sciences at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Efforts have been focused on equipping the rural poor with renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
But in an editorial appearing this week in the journal Science, Smith argues that switching all 2 billion of the world’s poor to liquefied petroleum gas for household use would add a scant 2 percent to the global greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels. At the same time, using gas fuel would decrease the environmental impact on local biomass resources.
Sarah Yang | EurekAlert!
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