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Professor Kunihiko Takeda shakes things up

It’s obvious to most people that I really love Japan.  I think the people are some of the kindest, friendliest people you will ever meet.  The country is clean and safe and a mecca for anime and gadget lovers.  But the one area I always cringe on is Japan’s environmentalism.  In many ways Japan is Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde when it comes to the environment.  They push the world to adopt the Kyoto Protocol, yet if you shop in a Japanese market you’ll find some of the most wasteful packaging ever created.

Enter my new hero Professor Kunihiko Takeda and a totally outrageous view on environmentalism by Japanese standards.  To read the full article, visit the Japan Times website.

Professor Kunihiko Takeda, Ph.D., is vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University and one of the world’s leading authorities on both uranium enrichment and recycling.

His fresh and original views are clear in his most recent book, “Hypocritical Ecology,” which has been flying off shelves at the speed of 100,000 a month since being published this June..

Some of my favorite quotes from Professor Takeda:

Recycling is rubbish: It eats more energy and creates more waste than burning our garbage in high-tech incinerators. The most efficient way of getting rid of garbage is burning it all together. Why? Because in raw garbage, plastics turn into their own fuel so you don’t need to add anything else. Aluminum and steel should be recycled, though, as we need less energy for that than to produce them from scratch.

Fear is a very efficient weapon: It produces the desired effect without much waste. Global warming has nothing to do with how much CO2 is produced or what we do here on Earth. For millions of years, solar activity has been controlling temperatures on Earth and even now, the sun controls how high the mercury goes. CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another. Soon it will cool down anyhow, once again, regardless of what we do. Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so. What makes a whole lot of economic and political sense is to blame global warming on humans and create laws that keep the status quo and prevent up-and-coming nations from developing. Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.

Criticizing previous ideals is natural. In the 1930s, militarism was considered best; in the 1960s, mass production and mass consumerism. Then in the 1990s the main topic was the environment. Every 30 years we switch what we believe in. This paradigm will pass, too.

The following quote really intrigues me.  We live in a farm state and ethanol is a HUGE topic in the area.  I’ve never understood the economics of it, though.  You’re basically burning your food.  You have to put gas in the tractors that care for the fields that grow the corn.  The amount of energy you get out of ethanol doesn’t make sense – it’s 20-25% less fuel efficient than gas.  It’s interesting that he sees it as a way for the government to create food and energy shortages.  A bit on the conspiracy theory side of things, but interesting nonetheless.

Look beyond what governments tell you. Some praise ethanol as a substitute for oil, but making fuel out of corn makes sense only if you want to increase the price of corn and fuel at the same time. In order to grow corn, one needs lots of fuel and once the corn is ready, instead of becoming a nice meal, it gets picked and turned back into fuel again. This is just a way to purposely create a food and energy shortage until only the very rich can afford to eat and move.

Consumerism marketed as environmental consciousness is the worst. Take the “My Hashi” campaign for example (buying and carrying reusable chopsticks rather than using disposable ones). Chopsticks should be made out of the unnecessary branches that are cut to help trees grow bigger and healthier. Instead of burning those branches, we should make chopsticks. That would be good for both the trees and us.

The energy crisis is nothing to sweat about. We will run out of fossil fuel within 40 years if consumption continues at today’s rate but by that time, nuclear power plants will be even safer and more efficient. Solar and wind energy will never be enough, but nuclear fusion technology will be more advanced, and new, as-yet-unknown energy sources will be developed. No need to worry at all, and no need to save energy, either.