Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mystery Photo #4 revealed

We had one correct guess on the mystery photo - it was a woodpile being prepared to make charcoal. After it is nicely stacked as in the first photo, it is doused with fuel and then covered with dirt (as it is pictured here). Sometimes there is a pipe sticking out of the top. They light the woodpile and let it burn for a few days- very slowly and with little air, to make the charcoal. Charcoal is what is used for everyday cooking in Liberia. So far, deforestation due to coal production isn't a big problem in Liberia because a lot of what is used for coal is either from clearing for farming, or for replanting of rubber trees. And if you were here this month, you would understand that it just doesn't take that long for trees and bush to come back - everything grows like crazy in the rainy season. But in Ivory Coast, which has a much bigger population, propane was subsidized to discourage coal use and coal production.

My brother told me that in Atlanta, you have to pay big bucks for "natural" charcoal. We pay about $3 for a 3 foot high rice sack full of coal. Maybe Liberia should be exporting it? (although when I was at the jeweler and saw him pay US $500 for a palm full of gold dust that someone brought in, I realized that Liberia has some pretty valuable stuff to export.....)

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