Gautam Yadama’s new book Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion: The State of the Energy Impoverished aims to raise awareness of energy poverty and household air pollution around the world. Close to 3 billion people in the developing world rely on biomass combustion — burning fires in rudimentary stoves — for cooking and heating needs. As a result, 4 million people die each year, and the large amount of black soot created has a staggering negative impact not only on health, but also on climate and advancement of the poor.
It’s an issue that has weighed heavily on Gautam N. Yadama, PhD, professor and director of international programs at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, who has spent much of his academic career researching communities that are dependent on forests for livelihoods in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
This fall, Yadama and photographer Mark Katzman are taking that issue to a broader audience with the publication of Fires, Fuel and the Fate of 3 Billion: The State of the Energy Impoverished (Oxford University Press 2013), a 152-page collection of photos and essays that tell an eye-opening, insightful story about energy access in the rural villages of India, where the hunt for safe, affordable energy is often a matter of life or death.