The Global Digest on the Asia Institute’s “Fukushima Initiative”

The Global Digest


September 10, 2013


On Saturday, September 7th, 2013, The Asia Institute held a seminar in Seoul to address the need for Peer-to-peer (P2P) Open Science in relation to the ongoing Fukushima crisis. Emanuel Pastreich, Director of The Asia Institute, said, “The Fukushima crisis is a global crisis and it is just a matter of six months or less before it starts to get the attention it deserves. Yet we do not have a single proposal for a global response that brings together the best and the brightest to come up with real, long-term solutions to this challenge. The Asia Institute distinguishes itself by being out there, identifying critical issues first and formulating a response. We were the first to say that climate change should be considered the primary security threat in East Asia. We want to be on top of this issue, and make sure that future discussions involve experts and citizens, as well as policy makers.”

Human rights activist, from Myanmar, Mr. John Thang said “culture should not prevent humanitarian issues around the Fukushima crisis – where Asian authoritarians use culture to violate their humanitarian responsibilities by turning a blind-eye to disasters because of historical issues between countries.’

The objective of the seminar was to develop a group of citizens to prepare a white paper on Fukushima. At the seminar, Layne Hartsell, Research Fellow in Convergence Science at The Asia Institute, gave the general scientific parameters of the situation related to radiobiology and technical concerns. Attending the event were citizens from Korea, China, Myanmar and the United States. The Asia Institute is advocating a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the disaster and some innovative ideas from Pastreich on opening up the science to general citizens, similar to the Galaxy Zoo project. At Galaxy Zoo, citizens assist the scientific community in identifying galaxies. The website says, ‘With so many galaxies, we’d assumed it would take years for visitors to the site

to work through them all, but within 24 hours of launch we were stunned to be receiving almost 70,000 classifications an hour. In the end, more than 50 million classifications were received by the project during its first year, contributed by more than 150,000 people.’ What Pastreich and Hartsell are hoping for is a similar project where citizens can observe data such as satellite images and chart the release of radiation over time to assist in the overall response.

Director Pastreich said, ‘We are the first, as far as we can tell, to actually formulate a response in our initial article [Foreign Policy in Focus]. We will now put some real meat on that skeleton so that policy makers can use it when they come to recognize the severity of the crisis. The Asia Institute will be partnering with Michel Bauwens and the P2P Foundation on the white paper.