1993 Photo Contest, Nature, Stories, 2nd prize
Photographer

Marcos Prado

01 January, 1992

More than 25,000 people earn a meager living producing charcoal. They cut down trees and bushes, which are turned into charcoal by burning them in clay ovens for three days. This charcoal is then transported to more than 100 steel mills, where it is used as fuel to produce crude iron. Federal reforestation laws are largely ignored. Brazil is one of the world's largest producers of charcoal, almost three-quarters of which comes from an area of virgin savannah twice as large as France, Italy and England put together. The charcoal workers live in poorly equipped campgrounds. The hard work, bad conditions and inhalation of toxic gases add up to an average life expectancy of only 55 years. In the ovens, in an airless atmosphere with temperatures between 500 and 600 degrees centigrade, four cubic meters of wood produce one cubic meter of charcoal. Each worker is responsible for 12 ovens.

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Marcos Prado

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