Day 11 – Unintended Consequences

I bet you slept a little in high school, didn’t you? You aren’t fooling anyone here, mister. You only have yourself to blame for today’s post then, because we need to make up for some lost time.

We’re going to do a little role playing game. Let’s go back in time to the 19th century, to a crazy upside down land where it’s illegal to walk on the right side of a footpath and taxis are required to carry a bale of hay in their trunk. Pretend you are a homesick English settler in Australia, we’ll call you Thomas Austin, just for fun. You’re sitting on your back porch, bored out of your skull because they haven’t invented Netflix yet. You think to yourself, “Self, I wish I could do more English things here in this God-forsaken place where only licensed electricians can legally change light bulbs. I know, I’ll text my nephew Willy back home and have ‘im ship me some bunneh’s via Amazon drone.” Well, lickety-split and Bob’s your uncle, old Willy came through. Tommy gets to play Elmer Fudd, hunting them wascally wabbits as they romp and frolic in the glorious Australian sun. Problem is, they frolic a little too much. Cut to the end of the story. It turns out the bunneh wasn’t so great after all, destroying the Australian countryside and spreading faster than any mammal anywhere on Earth in recorded history. This is what we call unintended consequences.

It seems that the history of improved cookstove distribution¬†has some unfortunate parallels with the story of Thomas Austin. One example is the introduction of “legacy” chimney improved stoves. Poor design resulted in little to no fuel savings, little to no reduction in indoor air pollution, and negligible reduction in cooking times. Okay, so they were really no different than Three Rocks. The only problem was, they were touted as being an improvement, which they weren’t. When they deteriorated because of their poor design, the users had little reason to fix them. End result? Cooks grew sour on the idea of improved cookstoves, and then had a very good reason to not invest their meager savings in a new one, even if it was better.

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Want to know a more odd example of unintended consequences? Sure you do. This one has to do with solar ovens. Remember how we discussed the educational component and cultural or religious barriers? Many indigenous people around the world hold the belief that the cooking fire is sacred, that it acts as a gateway to the spirit world. Enter the solar cooker folks, with a product that is certain to improve the lives of the locals. Only, the magical device cooks their food without the aid of the sacred fire, surely this is the work of the devil! Begone, life saving tool!

As I mentioned the other day, the efforts of those who ran these projects was noble in cause and deed. Those of us who follow in their footsteps have learned many lessons, right and wrong, from their actions. One great attribute of the human race is our (usual) ability to learn from our mistakes, and those of others. These bad decisions have pointed the rest of us in the right direction.

It is in this direction that Pasqual strives to go. This is the reason we have four strong partners, partners with a proven track record and a solid experienced team. Our project will seek to identify these barriers where they exist, how they came to be, and how to remove them so that they do not stand in between our Cook and her healthy future.

I’m not sure I’ve done a good job explaining exactly what Pasqual intends to do, and how we intend to do it. Guess you’d better read tomorrow’s post, Mr. Austin, and learn a thing or two.

To be continued…

PS – A personal note from me to you

I’m very honored that you have taken the time to read this far through our story, and I’m forever indebted to those who have shared it with their friends or family. Pasqual cannot exist in a vacuum, we need people to hear our story and the stories of the people we strive to help. But, more than that, we need people to care. We need people to care enough to share it again. And again. We don’t have thousands of devoted followers, but every single one of our existing followers count to a degree I cannot describe. When one person shares with one other person, twice as many people have been touched. Please be that person.

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