Christian Long

Amy Smith: Simple Lifesaving Design

In TED Talks on April 21, 2010 at 8:46 am

Reflection by ERIN M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Amy Smith:  Simple Lifesaving Design

Amy Smith came to TED to talk about inventing products that could save lives.

Smith works hard to help developing countries discover effective ways to make their natural recourses useful. In this particular TED talk she shares her discovered methods of making charcoal that burns cleaner. This charcoal was specifically designed to make cooking safer. Not too many people think of burning charcoal as being one of the number one causes of death for children under the age of five. Breathing in the smoke of an indoor cooking fire can cause an acute respiratory infection that can have serious side effects.

Is this really shocking? Of course people are aware of the harmful effects of smoke from charcoal, but what can be done to help prevent them?

In her talk, Smith shares a few ways she began to solve the problem of indoor cooking fires in developing countries. One of the places she began helping was Haiti. In Haiti making charcoal required wood to be harvested and turned into charcoal. With the loss of trees there were many environmental problems. Unfortunately, there was not much of an alternative to the wood charcoal. In Haiti, Amy Smith worked with the Peace Corps volunteers to find a way to make safer charcoal. With the help of engineers she and the volunteers came up with a process that could effectively use waste from sugar mills to form a charcoal that could be safely used for cooking. In another effort in India, Smith was able to find a safer method of making charcoal instead of the use cow manure. She also discovered one more way of making charcoal by using corn cobs. The use of corn cobs turned out to be the easiest and fastest way to make charcoal.

By using the natural recourses of these countries Smith was able to lower the costs of charcoal. Not only did she help these countries economically, but she also helped them environmentally. It is important that people reach out to poverty countries and help them find solutions to their problems.

Smith says, “You can’t use the same models that you use in the United States for making things move forward.”

The only way that progress can be made is by working together to solve world problems. Smith’s talk made me realize the importance of making the effort to help developing countries. The work that she does is inspiring. Smith makes a difference in many people’s lives, and step by step she is leading others to do the same thing. Watch her video about simple designs that can save lives and become inspired to do what you can to help.

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