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Japanese scholar: Children’s green awareness can spread and change society

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Japanese scholar Hiroshi Abe said educating the younger generation, rather than utilizing advanced technology, is more important in environmental protection.
As one of the organizers as well as the speaker at an academic conference, Abe delivered his presentation, titled “The Groundwork for Protecting Nature – From a Japanese Point of View”. In the public talk, the Japanese scholar focused on how to lay new groundwork for the protection of nature. He referred to the Japanese traditional view of nature and to some 17th century Japanese thinkers. Instead of supporting “cultural particularism”, he showed some similarities between Western and Japanese ways of philosophical thinking.
Abe argued that kids are not the sole and direct object of education. “Some of my friends work in big enterprises that may work against environmental protection. Their kids asked what their parents are doing to nature after learning [about environmentalism] from schools, which made my friends reflect. If children learn about nature, they will teach their parents. It could spread by kids and slowly change our society.”
Abe is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University in Japan, specializing in philosophy and environmental ethics.
Concerning nuclear pollution, Abe told the Times that no remarkable progress has been made in Japan, even though two years had passed. And he believed the “unpredictability” of nuclear impact is harmful to human beings, which could also be applied to the current nuclear threat from North Korea. “I worry that the future generation will suffer. The impact of nuclear pollution from natural disasters and from nuclear tests may vary at different levels, while they make no difference in harming human beings and nature,” he stated.
An academic forum entitled “Nature, Time, Responsibility” concluded yesterday at the Library of the University of Macau (UM). The three-day event, which began last Friday, examined the relationships among the three concepts comprising its title.  According to the organizer, irreparable environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change confront us on a daily basis with moral questions.
Scholars from the United States were also speakers at yesterday’s conference. Trish Glazebrook, from the University of North Texas, shared the impact of wind power projects on a community in the Indian province of Andra Pradesh. By exhibiting some pictures she took, the scholar showed what climate change could do to people’s lifestyles.

ABE proposes recycling model

The Japanese are known as well-educated citizens who are doing well in terms of environmental protection. At least that’s how they’re presented in the media by classifying different types of waste. Hiroshi Abe, however, told the Times yesterday that not every place follows such habits; some just “throw it (garbage) away without classification,” just as in Macau. From the scholar’s point of view, recycling is not the best way to tackle the problem of rubbish. “Of course, I do not support just throwing it away. But neither  am I a supporter of waste recycling,” he told the Times. “If we are doing too well in recycling garbage, people will dispose of things without feeling guilty. But waste can not be 100 percent recycled,” he explained. What he proposed instead was the model of “small production – small consumption - small amount of garbage”. Admitting the model might be an ideal, Prof. Abe said for larger regions, such as China, they could execute it first in states, cities or smaller units.

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