Blog action day is a day when bloggers all around the world write about a certain topic of interest and import to the world... and the blogosphere, I suppose, though the blogosphere is less important that, you know, THE WORLD.
anyway, bloggers this year voted to write about climate change (that's twice in three blog action days.. if not three times) -- but I just wrote about that. My friend Matt thinks this will be the most compelling issue of our generation... and I don't think he's wrong.
Anyway, this being a Korea blog, I took a look around google news and other searches, to find out about Korea's green status. Here are some interesting articles about Korea's green record.
First of all, Korea's a bit of an environmental puzzle: they develop wetlands, but LG Chem also invented one of the best batteries out there, which GM will be using in their electric car development, and which might lead to a Korean mass-produced electric car. Of the world's 20 largest economies, Korea and China used the highest percentage of their economic stimulus investments to support environmental work, and young Koreans overwhelmingly think protecting the environment is very important. These are good signs, duh.
There's the ironic trumpeting of the DMZ as a wildlife preserve, in which the Kimcheerleeders casually gloss over the fact it's undeveloped because it's a minefield... but it's also the one place in the world where you can observe the Three-Legged Asian Bear, and the Three-Legged Wild Deer, in its natural habitat.
But if you're going to read only one of these links, go for:
Asia Chronicle has an awesome article about "Korea's Green Nationalism" which does a great job describing the importance of nationalism in Korea, and how just as (polluting) industrial development was an imperative to repair Korea's damaged national pride after Japanese colonialism, reforestation was equally important to make up for the way the Japanese exploited Korean forests. In fact, Korea's reforestation project has been a remarkable success, increasing Korea's forestry resources by 900% since 1973. And trees grow slow. Arbor Day is a (kind of a) big deal here.
In my own observation, a short trip to Japan showed a much higher visible commitment to environmental protection in buildings and infrastructure: buildings had "energy efficient" stickers and signs on windows, appliances, and all over; almost every road had bike lanes, (whereas in Korea, the bike lane in front of Gyungbok Palace seems to have been taken as a "Buses, Taxis, Scooters and one Frazzled Biker Fearing For His Life Lane"). Bikes in Korea are a toy for kids, not a valid transportation option: hell if you'd find a bike garage like this (any old place in Kyoto) somewhere in Seoul. Maybe the situation's better in other cities, or outside the city, but it's bleak in Smoggy Seoul.
So there's a ways to go, both in public policy and conservation efforts, in green technology and infrastructure, and, more than anywhere else, in my opinion, also in the culture of the people on the street. It has to become cool to ride a bike in Korea, but for now, a car is still too much of a status symbol for all those old guys to take the subway (how can I browbeat my subordinates into staying late if I can't point to the parking lot and scream, "I drive a dodge stratus!" at them?) -- bikes have to become cool. The new subway lines in development have to be used. Bike lane laws must be enforced. And, before even starting the "don't litter you disgusting foob" awareness campaign, instilling respect for the streets in your average Korean, rather than just love for Dokdo, public trash receptacles need, need, NEED to return to Korea's public spaces so that people have no excuse for littering.
I lived in Jongno for sixteen months, and every morning at 6:40am when I walked to work, I had to walk by this. Frankly, it just looks like Seoulites don't respect their own city, when you see this: it's just shameful: (final picture in the series: puke warning)