Charcoal is the most consumed bioenergy around the world. It is the principal source of energy in developing countries. And the most commonly used charcoal is wood charcoal. With the rising population, the use of charcoal is increasing too.
Many poor and developing countries, as well as developed countries, still use charcoal as fuel. It is believed that more than 2 billion people around the world use charcoal daily. In developing countries, 86% of wood is being used as fuel. In Africa, 90% of energy consumption comes from wood.
Wood charcoal is commonly used domestically. People use it for cooking food, boiling water, and warming the house. It is also used to make art pencils, glass, and other things.
The carbonization of wood produces wood charcoal. It is usually produced by burning wood in a low oxygen environment. The heat removes the water and the other volatile essentials from the wood. In this way, the charcoal produces little smoke even if it is burned at high temperatures.
Around 1864 million m³ wood fuel, including 53 million tons of charcoal, was produced in 2014. So it is beyond imagination how much forest we lose every year to fulfill the massive demand for wood fuel and charcoal. And that is how using wood charcoal is playing a big part in deforestation.
Deforestation is cutting down trees in large numbers to clear forest land. Today forests cover only 31% of the land.
Tresses are being cut down every day to build houses, farmland, industries and fuel. For this, millions of trees are being cut down globally every year. And unsustainable charcoal production is causing deforestation as well.
And according to the World Bank, between 1990 and 2016 the world has lost 1.3 million square meters of forest. However, a different study shows that between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square meters of the forest were cut down. No matter what, we are losing an uncountable number of forest land every day.
And every minute, the Amazon rainforest loses forest land that is equal to a football pitch.
Deforestation shapes our ecosystem. Nature loses its balance because of it. It is endangering the plant species. Plant species and other forest animals are facing extinction due to this problem.
Deforestation is a threat to human extinction. According to a study by Nature Scientific Reports, if the current rate of deforestation continues in the next 20 to 40 years, the human race might face half or full extinction.
Every day we lose around 137 plant species and animals due to deforestation. As a result, we lose more than 50,000 species every year.
The Earth is facing severe damage by losing forests. Trees and forests help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. But if the number of trees and forests is less than necessary, more and more carbon will linger on the atmosphere. This raises the greenhouse gas, which is increasing the heat temperature in our atmosphere.
So now the world is facing the worst kind of natural disasters like floods, river erosion and diseases like malaria, the Nipah virus is increasing too.
Even though many countries are creating forest plantations to produce charcoal from wood, natural forests are still the main source of fuelwood. As a result, an uncountable number of trees are being cut globally.
The wood industry, especially the wood charcoal industry, is the source of income for many people in poor and developing countries. Rural people mostly depend on this source of income. But since it is harmful to all, we must look for alternatives.
Besides, charcoal stoves have only 10% heat efficiency. Which means 90% of the heat is lost while burning. This is nothing but a wastage of such a valuable natural resource.
Producing alternative energy instead of wood charcoal or fuel can be an excellent solution to this problem. Coconut shells, jute sticks, can be an excellent alternative to produce charcoal. A country like Bangladesh, where jute is produced in plenty, can use jute sticks to produce charcoal to replace wood charcoal.
Many countries in South Asia, including Africa, use human and animal energy as an alternative to wood energy. Still, wood remains to be the number one source of fuel.
Forest has always been the major and the most important source of energy. Human beings have been using wood for various purposes since the beginning of history. And a big part of it is being used as fuel.
If cutting down forest trees cannot be stopped, the global rainforest will become extinct before this century ends.
So, to save the Earth and ourselves, we must decrease deforestation to make wood charcoal and look for alternative solutions.