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A chance to merge money and mouth

By Ken Marrero
web posted January 7, 2008

It is impossible anymore to go anywhere without being followed by the global warming gremlin. It's on the radio and TV. It's in the papers and the magazines. The folks on the left are agonizing over the destruction being visited upon our planet by the heartless, soulless minions of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy driving from rubber chicken fund-raiser to rubber chicken fund-raiser to support the US occupation of Iraq in their SUVs. The glaciers are shrinking; the oceans are rising, tempers are flaring and those who got in on the ground floor of carbon offsets are smiling.

They savage capitalists and corporate CEOs who care only about the bottom line and ignore their responsibilities as citizens of the world. They bemoan the expenditure of money for dividends, stock splits, IPOs and the other vagaries of the sordid realm of filthy luchre. They yearn for captains of industry with feelings in their portfolios and who have banned animal testing along with freon from their bag of tricks.

They ask penetrating questions like "But why can't businesses and governments pledge a percentage of their obscene profits, squeezed from the toil and sweat and sacrifice of the noble laborer, to better the lives of the masses? Wouldn't it be good for them to make better consumers out of the people that work for them? Why must corporations always take and take and take? Why can't they give back every now and then?

Here's why!

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — In a makeshift laboratory equipped with little more than a battered chair and a cheap kitchen scale, inventor Rene Nunez Suarez displays the contraption that has become his life's obsession.

It's a stainless-steel cooker that uses about 95 percent less fuel than conventional wood stoves, with minimal pollution. It would seem a can't-miss technology in a country where millions still cook with wood and most forests have been destroyed.

The device has garnered Nunez a prestigious environmental prize. It has earned him a U.S. patent. And it has won fans among some Salvadoran peasants who no longer spend a good chunk of their days hunting for firewood and then inhaling cooking smoke.

It has also wrecked Nunez's marriage, alienated two of his three children and swallowed his life savings. At 61, he lives with his mother to save on rent and drives a 1990 Kia.

Nunez knows some people think he's a fool to have poured $2.5 million of his and his family's money into his project with little to show for it.

"My ex-wife said: ‘Man, you are an idiot. Poor people have no money. They are not going to buy your stoves,' " he said. "She was right."

Nunez gambled that the government or nonprofits would finance production of the appliances to distribute to low-income people. But Salvadoran officials so far have shown scant interest. Environmental groups have offered praise but little financial backing.

Praise - but no pesos!

Here's a man who should be the darling of the environmentalists. He should be feted globally! His picture should be on more t-shirts than Che's and there should be some little factory, or dozens of them around the world pumping out his little inventions. He's a man of passion, wealth, vision and social and environmental responsibility. He has sacrificed everything for the cause. Further, the thing works!! Think of the millions of man hours annually spent doing something other than looking for firewood to cook with. Think of the health benefits to be had by the poor not having to breath a hut full of woodsmoke. Think of the giga-tons of carbon saved with a stove that is so efficient! Think of all the air to be scrubbed clean and the bounce in all our global steps from all the extra oxygen in the air from all the trees that will be saved.

But the very people who ought to be lionizing this man are doing nothing. As the article says, "Environmental groups have offered praise but little financial backing." I guess they're too busy flying from California to DC to testify about the hazards of air traffic and SUVing across town to one of their rubber tofu-that-tastes-just-like-chicken dinners in support of reducing pollution standards in cars in the US. In fact, they may even wonder what all the ruckus is all about. Wasn't it great fun when Daddy or GrandPapa took us camping and we got to cook over a wood fire? Don't these people realize how lucky they are to be able to cook with wood all the time?

It's time for GreenPeace, ELF, Earth First, The Green Cross International and the rest of the environmentalists to put up or shut up. Stop destroying other businesses and villifying other businessmen and get behind a guy that is making a difference in the manner you've been championing for years. For crying out loud, the guy is perfect for you. While he is male, he's not white and he's not European! The article I quoted is from the Seattle Times and the author has an LA Times byline. Your side has to know about this man. Why have you allowed him to languish and his idea to starve?

Perhaps if you stop running your mouth for a few minutes about how evil the rest of us are for not doing what you demand, you'd be able to stuff it full of dollars for someone who has answered your call. I'll be back in a year to see how you've done.

Guessing this is what will be cooking in a year - the investor's finances will be burned up, he'll be burned out and the left will still be burning up the airwaves telling the world that it's people like me that are the problem… ESR

Ken Marrero is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

 

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