Environmentalism in South Korea

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is urging the international community to act now to prevent climate change, following a report by the world’s top climatologists that says global warming is unequivocally our fault:

“The report highlights the scientific consensus regarding the quickening and threatening pace of human-induced climate change,” Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

He emphasized that the world should respond to the phenomenon decisively. [Yonhap]

I’m happy to see Ban clearly vocalize his concern, but we need something beyond that. We need policy and plans of action, and we need them enforced.

Ban, both as South Korean and a top U.N. figure, is in a unique position to put pressure on his home turf. From my observations living in Seoul, people seem little concerned wtih environmental issues – most seem solely in pursuit of progress, fervent over education, while strangely embracing materialism.

Since 2000, the US EPA has been active in engaging South Korean policy-makers to develop an eco-friendly economy, and it seems to have been met pretty openly. While tighter restrictions on industry have helped air quality, the innumerable automobiles in Seoul continue to turn the city’s skies a murky hue when there are dry spells.

Ban should work to increase public awareness and interest in environmental issues in his home country, as well as the rest of the world. South Korea’s culture has been in the mode of development for the past half-century, but now it’s necessary to shift gears, self-examine and invest in sustainability.

Additional links: Korea Environmental Institute


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