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Chiang Mai Citylife > Articles > Do something, damn it!

Do something, damn it!

Biochar furnaces

What’s the good news about haze?

We aren’t alone – and we’re at the forefront solving the problem here and globally.

Our Haze Season is finished, but it will move to China, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia before coming around to us again next February.

So, can we stop our efforts to Stop the Smoke now?

No.

We want to breathe easy and we owe it to others around the world to Stop the Smoke here.

Besides, we’re angry that no one’s doing anything. We’ve heard rumours. The government has poured hundreds of millions of baht into universities to solve the haze crisis. Who got the money to do what and what are they doing? We’ve heard rumours of laboratories in Chiang Mai full of inventions to stop the smoke. Why’re we still shooting water canon in the air?

Chiang Mai’s skeptical. We’ve heard all this before. Every haze season, the same public meetings trot out the same experts who say the same, hand waving things.

Enough.

Someone must step up to say: (1) this is the problem; (2) this is how to solve it; (3) here is where you can watch us work; (4) these measures that will show if our solution succeeded; and (5) here is where we will publish our results.

Public. Transparent. Accountable.

This is how you conduct public policy in a democracy.

What’s Warm Heart’s take? The problem is smoke from burning corn waste; to solve it, give poor farmers a better alternative than burning. We’ll teach farmers in Mae Chaem to make smokeless biochar. You can watch the making and us paying. If you don’t want to trek out there, read Citylife!

We’re not the government and we don’t have billions of baht. But we have a five year programme to Stop the Smoke and we have you, the citizens of Chiang Mai. Year 1, you paid Mae Chaem farmers to make 15,000 bags of biochar, stopping tonnes of smoke before it was made. Year 2, you helped us develop biochar products. You proved that poor farmers are happy to char not burn and that they can make profitable biochar products.

This is Year 3 and Warm Heart needs your support for two projects because by 2021 we want to have stopped the smoke from corn waste burning in Mae Chaem!

The first is just for you. In Mae Chaem, corn waste will burn as long as there are cornfields. Stop the Smoke 2019 will eliminate 5,000 rai of cornfields by buying 8,000 bags of biochar from farmers. We will donate it as fertiliser to farmers who replant ex-cornfields with permanent crops like coffee. Donate to Stop the Smoke 2019 and you are buying smoke before it happens, ensuring that no crop waste will burn there again, putting money in poor farmers’ pockets and providing farmers better returns into the future.

The second is for the world. Feed corn demand keeps rising; replanting cornfields is a temporary solution that forces corn into new areas. The only permanent solution to burning is to make it profitable to convert corn waste to biochar products that are superior to the products they replace. Stop the Smoke – Reduce Global Warming, creates a village cooperative that convert corn waste to biochar and biochar to briquettes like those used by 65% of people in the North. Unlike charcoal, making biochar briquettes does not require deforestation or produce smoke. The briquettes also do not smoke or smell, light faster, burn hotter and longer than charcoal. Priced like charcoal, biochar briquettes sell fast and at a nice profit. Donate to Stop the Smoke – Reduce Global Warming and you are buying smoke before it happens and supporting the field-test of a social enterprise model we plan to replicate around the world.

Michael Shafer, Director, Warm Heart Foundation

Learn more about Warm Heart Foundation at The Heart Warming Story of Warm Heart Foundation