Asia Institute Seminar
Monday, May 15, 2017
“The Road to a Shrinking Society”
How to make ourselves truly renewable
School of Engineering
After the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in 2011, Japanese public opinion has been divided into three groups: those who want to continue using it, those who want to phase it out and those who want to end its use immediately. The establishment has argued that nuclear power is required for the economy and recently the Abe Administration has pushed for restarting plants as part of his agenda for growth.
The choice is one rather of choosing the future of Japan and goes far beyond nuclear power. If we continue this rate of “growth” we will exhaust all our resources in the near future. Even 2% growth will assure us that we will use up what resources we have in fifty years, rather than one hundred.
War and catastrophe will be the consequences of the radical exhaustion of resources.
There is much talk about a sustainable society today, but the term “sustainable” is used in a vague sense with no concrete guidelines.
Some in industry see it as meaning the sustaining of current growth into the future, the complete opposite of the environmentalists demand for limited consumption.
We must face the truth and reduce real consumption. If we reduce consumption by 1% every year, a 100 year reserve can be continued indefinitely. If we reduce more than that, we can build up a reserve. We must design a smaller society for the sake of future generations in order to avoid catastrophe.
The current economic system is based on mass production and mass consumption. As a result, our lives are flooded with industrial products to which we have become addicted. Our ever-growing society is already showing the signs of discordance as a result of this consumption illness. A smaller society, on the other hand, supports local production and consumption, and requires less energy. We will have a more healthy society if people are not addicted to industrial products and anonymous consumption but rather nurture each other and promote a creative life.