Monday, October 15, 2007

Koreans Can't Afford To "Think Poor"

Update 1 (Oct. 18, 2007 @ 9:26am)

Here is the Blog Action Day blog for more info.

Good show my fellow bloggers!

I was happy to hear about Blog Action Day because it’s one way to show that Web 2.0 isn’t a complete waste of time and energy, and that it’s not going to be the downfall of humanity or Western culture as some are arguing these days.

The concept of having thousands upon thousands of bloggers talking about the environment is a great idea. It doesn’t matter what you write about or what you think. It's not a liberal blog action day or a conservative blog action day. You can be on the progressive or not-so-progressive side. You can be on the informed or not-so-informed side. You can be on the involved or not-so-involved side. That's great because maybe it will be a step towards people understanding that you can have varying views and still have a civil discussion.

As today approached I’d spent a fair amount of time right here: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket. Stuck and completely unsure of what approach to take.

I'm still not quite sure, but let's see where I end up.

As I’ve written before, in California it’s so easy to be someone who conserves. It’s easy. It’s encouraged. In Korea it’s not.

The frequent catchphrase and easy excuse is it’s a "developing country". This is said as if the concept of the environment is somehow alien or incompatible to economic development or, even worse, that Koreans are too dense or too backwards at this point in time to get it due to their level of economic development. The problem is thinking like that is going to put the commerce and development out of reach for the whole world. How many developing nations will lean on this excuse? How many incidents like the 1991 Doosan Chemical spill will have to happen in developing countries until that's no longer an excuse? How long does Seoul have to be known as having "some of the worst air pollution among developing cities"?

Traffic today around 3pm near Namdaemum Market in Seoul

That sort of reasoning is completely untrue. Of course, developing nations are special cases, but Koreans like any other nation can "get" the importance of repairing and preserving the environment and conservation. The fact is Korea is entering a completely new phase of development which is focused less on heavy industry and more on services and research and technology.

I did find a interesting webpage on the Pacific Rim Consortium on Energy, Combustion, and the Environment (PARCON) website that says that after the first oil crisis where Koreans were encouraged to “think poor” and use energy accordingly.

I started to write suggestions on how to conserve in Korea, but then I realized that I don’t want to do that. It’s real easy to get stuck on the minutia, hoist yourself up on a green soapbox, and, basically, isolate everyone around you to the point where they’re saying, “you know what? Fuck the environment!” Around a few high and mighty, environmentalists, vegans and certain hyper-aggressive members of the Green Party I’ve had the displeasure of dealing with, I've been close to feeling that way.

It’s pretty clear that human activity has made it essential that we think about our daily activities and how those activities impact our planet. It’s not about development or a lack of it. It’s about educating the population that being mindful of their daily activities can help heal the environment. In South Korea, "thinking poor" isn't the way to go anymore. With an economy that is firmly seated in the top 15 in the world, South Korea is now very far from being poor.

One tip: take mass transit. It's pretty darn good here in Korea.

The IPCC's report is linked here along with other info: Where the Hell Am I?: On A Warming Planet.

My previous posts on the environment.

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  1. Hi Jane,
    Good post. As Kermit the frog said
    "It aint easy being green"
    and trying to write a blog post on the topic without sound high and mighty is not easy.

    I wasn't that happy with my post on for Blog action day, but if it spurs even one person to help the environment a little bit I feed I've done some good.

    I agree with you on the Mass transport too.

  2. Hey!

    How is life in Japan?

    Blog Action Day was a challenge, but I hope they do it next year.

    I was glad to be a part of it.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.