Growing Energy Consumption, Driven by World Population and Income Growth, Will be a Challenging Future to the World in General and Africa in Particular. This blogger Researches the Energy Industry and Shares and Gives an Insight of Better Practices, Innovations and updates to policy Makers, Utility providers, Consultants and Electricity consumers for Them to Act Not Just Economically but also Responsibly. Please Continue Reading the Articles Below.
Saturday, 28 May 2016
Coffee versus Charcoal-Trip Reflection
On one of my
recent business trips to the beautiful countryside of Ethiopia, I discovered
two important experiences; Coffee farming and charcoal production. They are two
completely different items but with one essential similarity. Both are sources
of income to communities where they are practiced. Inspired by the implications
of the practices, I would like to reflect and share on my observation.
Coffee plants growing under the bigger trees
It is obvious that Ethiopians as a whole
are mad for coffee. Beyond the local coffee producing farmers and consumers,
the nation itself relies heavily on the export of its organic coffee but that
is not what I intend to highlight here. Rather my observation that wherever coffee
plantations are, the natural world, the forest, in most instances, is in good
condition. This has been the case for a long time. The reason, coffee to
be productive and even to survive needs shading, and this shading is obtained
from the bigger trees surrounding the coffee plantation. So long as coffee
continues to provide economic benefit to the communities more than the trees
do, we are all safe from the impacts of deforestation and land degradation. The communities
will always be taking care of the forest whether they are aware of their
contribution in mitigating the impacts of climate change or not.
Preparation for charcoal
Due to the fact that most Ethiopians
lack access to modern energy, the rural communities produce charcoal to sell to
the urban and sub-urban communities so that they use it for cooking. The large
and growing demand for charcoal in the cities keep on driving the production of
charcoal at a cost of nature even if there is a strong control on the many
check points. When it comes to sustainability, the opposite is quite true here.
Some may argue that it could be possible to make it sustainable but this is not
the case to what I witnessed. Wherever there is charcoal production, especially the
extensive ones, the natural world, the forest, is in bad or deteriorating
condition. The communities just chop the more than twenty plus years of trees
in to logs and burn them down to charcoal to obtain a marginal benefit. And
when they do this, it does happen in an inefficient way.
What do you
Well, I do learn that one of the
dangerous activities of humanity has always been the negative role it played to
destroy the natural world. It is not just only coffee which needs the shading
of the bigger trees to survive and thrive in the deep forest. The more we lose
the bigger ones, the more the thinner the diversity of nature. That is really sad.
Beyond that, the more humanity keep on
deteriorating the natural sink to carbon dioxide and other related polluting gases, the more we lose the choices to tackle them.
I also learned that, in our collective
effort to reduce carbon dioxide and other polluting gases from our atmosphere
to the levels we need and in a sustainable and realistic way, we need to find
alternative income generating means to the communities more specifically where
the natural forest does still exist.
As we can learn from the coffee case, so
long as people have other alternative sources of income, there will not be a
reason for them to pressure their natural neighbor. On the other hand, no matter
how hard we try to control the illegal production of charcoal, if there is even
legal production of charcoal at all, without providing alternative substitutes
of their causes, it would be unlikely to stop it.
You just scale it to
Africa, to South America, to Asia and so on.....to learn the magnitude and
implications of these activities any further.