Title: Associate Professor Emeritus of Physics and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Heller School
Degrees: Harvard University, Ph.D., Harvard University, M.A., California Institute of Technology, B.S.
Expertise: K-12 science and environmental education, teacher training, and curriculum research
Awards and Honors: National Institutes of Health Special Fellow (1972 – 1973), National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow (1959 – 1963), Woodrow Wilson Fellow (1959 – 1960)
Courses Taught: ED 261a: Inquiry-Based Science Teaching and Learning, HS 259f: Topics in Sustainable Development, PHYS 22a: The Science in Science Teaching and Learning
“Professor Lange is making the world more green, one community at a time.”
On November 18, I went over to the Maasai hut in front of Usdan to see what it was all about. Professor Lange has done extensive traveling in Tanzania, where he has developed a technology that can lower the Maasai people’s carbon emissions by 90%. The Maasai are a pastoral group who live in Tanzania in huts. Within these huts, the food is cooked; however, the smoke that comes out of the stove leads to many respiratory problems, particularly for the women and children who spend most of their time in there. Professor Lange developed a chimney that allows the smoke to go outside of the hut (and reduces the amount of smoke overall).
The aspect of this that I appreciated the most was the importance he placed on not simply telling the Maasai what to do, but educating them. He gave incentives for his technology; for example, he gave solar panels to charge cell phones when a family decided to start using his technology. However, he made it clear that if a family did not want to use his technology, he did not push it. In the end, he left the choice up to to the individual families and he admited that there are people not willing to use this technology. Another great thing is how inexpensive it is to make the hut and chimney. This enables the design to be used by all people, regardless of family income.
Professor Lange has made great strides in a country like Tanzania and it is only a matter of time, in my opinion, before this ground-breaking technology spreads to other developing countries in need of more “green” technology. Professor Lange is making the world more green, one community at a time.
On Tuesday November 30th, Robert “Bob” Lange continued the discussion in a Brown Bag information session. Accompanying Bob at this talk was Joseph ole Tipanko, the chief and schoolteacher of the local Maasai group. He described his community and emphasized their need for education and sustainable development.
Showing images of his time in Kenya, Bob painted a very clear picture of the impact his stove can have in communities such as the Maasai. The traditional Maasai house is a large circular structure, with a small door sometimes the only opening, with a spiral vine weave holding the roof up. Traditionally the Maasai cook with a three stone stove in the middle of the room, described as like having a bonfire in the middle of your bedroom. It would be uncovered and because there is little to no ventilation in the house smoke would fill the entire room, coating the roof and house in soot.
As has been mentioned, the idea of this new stove is to redirect the fire and smoke to cook efficiently and aim the smoke out the chimney. Sustainability is the primary focus of this stove, lowering environmental degradation as well as being sustainable in the community. As part of the installation, local women were taught how to build the stove, helping the local economy as well as creating a situation in which women can fix the stove themselves as opposed to relying on outside sources for help.
The stove forms one part of a two-way deal between the local community and Bob’s non-profit organization: in return for paying for the stove, Bob and others will install it, teach local women how to build and fix it, and give them a solar electrical system that they will also teach local women how best to utilize. The idea behind this is that by buying the stove people are not only helping themselves, but also everyone by lowering their environmental impact. Bob described it as like the idea of a bank, guaranteeing a hard cash return (solar electrical system) for local communities’ investment in environmental sustainability (through the implementation of the stove).
Bob and his colleagues been gathering data for some time now, and as far as they can tell the initiative is going wonderfully. It has reduced smoke and carbon monoxide by 90%, and has reduced the amount of wood used by 2/3. This represents progress both for the lowering of emissions as well as deforestation. Local animals depend on those forests, and the reduction of the wood needed to 1/3 of what was required in the past allows for much less human impact on the nearby forest.
There are websites for both the Maasai community and the non-profit organization. The Maasai the site is www.maasai.webs.com, and the non-profit the site is www.the-icsee.org. For more information about Bob and his work with the Maasai, please take a look at the following news articles:
- Hut outside Usdan heralds weeks of climate programs
- From Teaching to Tanzania
- Lange, physicist emeritus, helping green East Africa
This article was co-written by Marie Zazueta ’10 and Ariana Hajmiragha ’13, student employees in the Office of Global Affairs.