Monday, March 1, 2021

Desire for a Nuclear-free Korean Peninsula

In the Catholic Peace Weekly Diagnosis of the Times Column, an environmentalist writes about his experience of 35 years working in the field and the changes that have taken place. In the West, topics that were of great concern but were of little interest in Korea are gradually attracting attention.

For example, the whale protection movement has been very intense in North America and Europe for more than 20 years since the 1970s, becoming a symbol of the Western environmental movement. In Korea, whale protection issues drew keen attention in the wake of the 2005 Ulsan World Whaling Commission's international conference and the release of the aquarium dolphin Jedol to the ocean in 2013. 

The same is true of ocean dumping of land waste such as factory wastewater, sewage sludge, food waste, etc. Korea joined the London Convention in 1993, but for a long time using exceptions, millions of tons per year were dumped in the East and West Sea. Ocean dumping has ceased since 2014.  

The anti-fur movement had a strong opposition image in the 1980s and 1990s, in which European activists sprayed blood from fur farms onto models at fur fashion shows, saying, "What kind of fashion show is it with slaughtered animal skins?"  

In Korea, fur consumption was the world's highest, up until just before the IMF in 1997, accounting for three to four pages of advertising in the major daily newspapers every day. The anti-fur movement received great attention and now, no matter how cold, it is rare seeing a person wearing fur. In his case, preparing for his wedding, he put the phrase "Don't wear fur clothes" on the wedding invitation.

The non-asbestos movement has a slightly different aspect. In Europe, asbestos was banned in the 1990s, and in Korea, asbestos was banned only in 2009, so there is still a lot of asbestos left in schools, hospitals, and general housing. With asbestos factories leaving for Indonesia and other countries the problems continue and in solidarity with other Asian countries continue to speak about the damage done to society and the country. Instead of simply following the environmental movement of the West, they are questioning the responsibility of asbestos factories that were kicked out of Europe.

What he envied during his business trips to Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s was seeing the large pinwheel of wind power generators running in many different places. Wind power generators on the Dutch coast were considered symbols of advanced countries. The first offshore wind generator built on the sea that he visited was in Newcastle Port in England in 2001. He was greatly impressed. A newspaper article: "If all the wind in the nearby sea was turned into energy, it can supply electricity to entire Europe." This gave him confidence that "sea wind power generation is an alternative to nuclear power."

Over the past decade, wind farms have also been established in Korea. However, they have been perceived by some as an environmental problem that damages beauty and causes noise. Last year and this year, offshore wind farms began to be promoted and operated in Korea both in the West and East Sea.
Solar power plants in large-scale solar facilities in parts of Korea are also Eco-friendly energy sources. We hope the Green New Deal's offshore wind power generation and sunlight development policies continue to be carried out. Furthermore, on both sides of the demilitarized zone, he hopes the two Koreas will install in the Yellow Sea and West Sea solar and wind power generating plants to help in the climate crises and work towards a nuclear-free united Korean Peninsula.

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