Asia Institute Seminar
Monday, May 15, 2017
“The Road to a Shrinking Society”
How to make ourselves truly renewable
School of Engineering
After the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in 2011, Japanese public opinion has been divided into three groups: those who want to continue using it, those who want to phase it out and those who want to end its use immediately. The establishment has argued that nuclear power is required for the economy and recently the Abe Administration has pushed for restarting plants as part of his agenda for growth.
The choice is one rather of choosing the future of Japan and goes far beyond nuclear power. If we continue this rate of “growth” we will exhaust all our resources in the near future. Even 2% growth will assure us that we will use up what resources we have in fifty years, rather than one hundred.
War and catastrophe will be the consequences of the radical exhaustion of resources.
There is much talk about a sustainable society today, but the term “sustainable” is used in a vague sense with no concrete guidelines.
Some in industry see it as meaning the sustaining of current growth into the future, the complete opposite of the environmentalists demand for limited consumption.
We must face the truth and reduce real consumption. If we reduce consumption by 1% every year, a 100 year reserve can be continued indefinitely. If we reduce more than that, we can build up a reserve. We must design a smaller society for the sake of future generations in order to avoid catastrophe.
The current economic system is based on mass production and mass consumption. As a result, our lives are flooded with industrial products to which we have become addicted. Our ever-growing society is already showing the signs of discordance as a result of this consumption illness. A smaller society, on the other hand, supports local production and consumption, and requires less energy. We will have a more healthy society if people are not addicted to industrial products and anonymous consumption but rather nurture each other and promote a creative life.
“청년들이 바라보는 헬조선 및 5.9선거”
2017년 4월 17일
이만열 EMANUEL PASTREICH
전상구 & 박경홍
경희대학교 & 한양대학교
최근 청년들이 헬조선 이란 현상을 심각하게 우려 하고 있지만 많은 경우 직접 자기 의견을 말하고 해결 방법에 대한 제안을 할 기회도 없습니다. 그리고 자기 주장을 잘 할 방법도 모르는 경우 가 많습니다. 이번 세미나에는 청년의 목소리를 직접 듣고 자유로은 대화 할 수 있는 공간이 제공됩니다.
World Citizen’s Organization
The Asia Institute
The Asia Institute’s senior associate John Feffer recently published recently a remarkable dystopian novel Splinterlands in which looks back on the coming conflicts and contradictions of the 21st century from midway and gives us a chance to pull together the various strands of current geopolitical transformation, from climate change to the rise of the far right and grasp the larger zeitgeist in midstream.
The following is an excerpt from Splinterlands. It’s a look back at our world from the shattered Earth of 2050. Feffer’s novel has come to read ever less like futuristic fiction and ever more like a vivid journalistic report on the latest developments in our distressed, Trumpian universe. The story is about a “geo-paleontologist” named Julian West who looks back from the year 2050 on a world shattered by the unexpected rise of nationalism and the devastation of climate change. The excerpt below is the first thousand words from the novel.
More than twenty-five years ago, as I sat on the roof of our house watching the neighborhood’s furniture float down the street, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Everything I owned was under water. The capital of my country was ruined. Mother Earth was exacting its revenge upon its most arrogant inhabitants.
As it turned out, things got a lot worse.
If anyone should have anticipated the world’s vertiginous descent into chaos, I was the most likely candidate. I was the author of Splinterlands, a bestselling book on the fracturing of the international community that made Julian West a household name (among the more discerning households at any rate) and launched an entirely new field. That book also led the chattering classes to dub me, dismissively, Professor Chicken Little.
True, I’d been warning people that the sky was about to fall. I just didn’t think it would fall on me.
No one predicted that the “extreme weather event” known as Hurricane Donald would flood Washington, DC, and its surroundings in 2022. I’d gone to sleep the night before expecting, at worst, high winds and heavy rains. I was roused from sleep by sirens and rapidly rising waters. My wife, fortunately, was on a business trip in Chicago. My children were safely abroad. It was dawn, and I’d woken to a nightmare.
From my second-floor window, I could see a river sweeping down our suburban street. My car had already disappeared beneath the roiling brown water. Behind me, I could hear something lapping against the stairs. The river, I soon discovered, had already claimed the first floor. I entertained the idea of diving in to retrieve my wallet and my computer, both of which I’d foolishly left downstairs. I quickly scotched that idea. They weren’t salvageable, and I didn’t have time.
There was no place to go but up. I grabbed my phone, put on two more layers of clothes, and climbed out onto the roof. The chimney provided a small measure of shelter from the wind and water. From this precarious perch, I could see other families huddled on their roofs. We looked like a flotilla of refugees, our chimneys as masts in the storm. My neighbors held tightly to their most precious possessions: grandma’s walker, a small safe, the family dog. Virtually all these things, including the dog, would eventually be left behind. There just wasn’t room in the boats that finally came to get us.
“This is the end,” a young woman kept repeating to no one in particular as we huddled in the fishing skiff commandeered by the Coast Guard. Rain lashing her face, she clutched her laptop to her chest as if it were a flotation device. “This is the end, and everything has gone to shit.”
Just as those who don’t live in the Arctic north lack a sophisticated vocabulary for describing snow, we hadn’t yet found the words for the catastrophes about to befall us. For the time being, “shit” would have to do. Soon we would see the collapse of everything we considered so stable: the European Union, multiethnic China and Russia, and eventually the United States itself. We would be visited by an almost biblical succession of plagues: disease-bearing mosquitos, killer robots run amok, the perils of too much—and too little—water. Even our own genes turned against us, with multiple mutations that we unwittingly passed to future generations like defective holiday gifts.
I don’t want to diminish the impact of Hurricane Donald. Several thousand people died. The economic toll ran into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The US capital moved to Kansas City. But this was nothing compared to what came next. And still we haven’t come to the end.
On March 18, 2017, the Asia Institute held its first seminar in Japan in Fukui. The seminar focused on the challenges of anti-intellectualism and the undermining of science in contemporary society. The discussion was led by Asia Institute members Inobe Kota and Nakafuji Hirohiko. Over the course of the afternoon we were joined by several leading figures from Fukui. On March 19 we visited Fukui University.
The Asia Institute
Wed, April 12, 2017
Cooperation in the Future of East Asian Security
How the United States can work together with Korea, Japan & China
chairperson of The Tomorrow
The Asia Institute
Deputy Secretary General
Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat
608 CENTENNIAL HALL
Although the media is full of reports about increasing tensions in East Asia, the rapid development of technology and the impact of climate change is such that there is increasingly a need for global cooperation in security especially in the fields of non-traditional security. This seminar brings together a group of experts and world citizens to discuss how the United States and Korea can cooperate with China and Japan to respond to new security challenges such as cyber attacks, drones, organized crime, immigration challenges, spreading deserts, and other risks related to the onset of climate change. The seminar will also touch on the possible uses for an East Asian arms control treaty and other general agreements on emerging technologies.