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Unreasonables, Episode 17: Clean Fuel To Save Africa’s Forests

They say that if you drop a frog in boiling water, it will jump out of the pot. But if you put a frog in cool water and then slowly raise the temperature, it won’t notice it is slowly boiling to death. That’s a little like the difference between the process of modernization in the developed world and the developing world. Here in the developed world, we’ve been slowly using up our natural resources since the Industrial Revolution. One doesn’t really notice we’re chopping down all our trees when it happens slowly over 150 years. But in Africa, the changes have been immediate and drastic.

Moses Sanga remembers growing up in a world filled with nature. Now, just a few years later, there are almost no trees left, as the growing population consumes the food for fires. Sanga says that at current rates, Africa will have no forests at all by 2052. So he created Eco-Fuel Africa, a company that makes biochar, a charcoal made from agricultural waste. They teach farmers how to make this new kind of charcoal, buy it from them, and then sell it to other Africans, who can heat their homes without cutting down trees.

This is the latest video in The Unreasonables, a series tracking the participants in the most recent Unreasonable Institute. To see what’s coming up, watch a preview of the whole season and see a list of all the episodes here.

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