Yak Dung Is Making Climate Change Worse
It gets pretty cold this time of year in Tibet. For centuries, the solution to this problem was a win-win: just burn that huge pile of yak dung that’s been accumulating all summer.
For millions of nomadic Tibetans, it’s a system that works. But that system comes at a hefty cost. Tibetan homes have some of the worst indoor air pollution in the world, and the soot the dung fires release is a big contributor to climate change.
Yak dung, when used as fuel, is arguably dirtier than coal but is definitely much cheaper. Particulate pollution from burning animal dung greatly increases the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory ailments, the occurrence of which can be slowed by switching to cleaner ways of heating homes.