“Daejeon: Environmental Capital of Asia”
( with Han Jeonghun)
January 10, 2008
No one would expect that it would be Daejeon, of all cities, that would take a leading role in adopting policies to reduce the consumption of energy, mitigate pollution and implement aggressive recycling policies, but it is easy to see that because Daejeon is blessed with such remarkable scientific resources, it is poised to become the environmental capital of Korea and serve, eventually, as a model for all cities in East Asia that are now engaged in the battle to rid themselves of the specter of environmental degradation and the addiction to imported oil.
The first step towards this goal is simple: a contest for elementary school children asking for an answer to this question: “What is the best way for Daejeon to reduce its use of energy and reduce pollution?” The winner will be given a scholarship for university. The essays will be published in all of the newspapers. And it will be made clear that freedom from oil and pollution is critical to our city’s future.
The next step for us will be a careful survey of all the technologies that have been developed in Daejeon and research underway at universities or government research centers that is relevant to energy conservation and pollution reduction. The most valuable and practical technologies and strategies will be identified, analyzed and a plan put forth for their application in Daejeon. That process will require considerable imagination, as the applications of technologies being developed to the reduction of energy consumption or elimination of pollution may not be immediately obvious. For example, technologies developed at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials or Korea Aerospace Research Institute may allow us to build highly efficient electric bikes that will reduce automobile traffic.
Daejeon will not only be a center for research, it will become a testing ground for the applications of the new technologies developed here. Experimental trains with minimum emissions and maximum efficiency will be built using special computer coordinated tracks. New cutting-edge heating systems will be subject to large-scale testing in Daejeon to see whether we can cut down inefficiency. Space-age insulation materials will be added to all new housing to bring down heat loss, and the next generation of solar cells will be seen first in Daejeon.
Daejeon will rapidly become a showroom for advanced energy and pollution technologies available nowhere else. We can expect global attention and increased interest in the region. Moreover, Daejeon can become a leader in environmental technologies as a result: a field that promises to grow exponentially as the environmental problems of China, India and the developing world are confronted over the next decade.
We should think of this effort as equivalent of the plan to put a man on the moon. We will declare that Daejeon will be the greenest city in Asia in 8 years and will cut its energy use and pollution emissions by half in spite of anticipated growth. We will then have a clear, and difficult goal. We can then focus on using every technology that we have at hand to realize that ultimate goal.
Let us consider the concrete steps we should take:
We should conduct a survey of technologies with applications to reducing energy consumption and pollution.
Technologies that reduce emissions; technologies that reduce energy waste; technologies that insolate homes; technologies that generate energy cheaply and cleanly; technologies for collecting and processing garbage; technologies for reducing garbage in the first place; technologies for making transportation more efficient; technologies for cleaning up pollution, etc.
We can then identify which of those technologies can be applied effectively in Daejeon as part of an experimental run before global application. We should consider which technologies can be readily applied in China and India, but at the same time, we should also aim for a global standard, undertaking projects without precedent. Daejeon will become the center in Asia for environmental technologies.
Establishment of a center for environmental issues in Daejeon that will coordinate the development and implication of these technologies.
Identify companies or organizations that can cheaply and effectively produce and distribute these new technologies in Daejeon.
Promote policies and habits that reduce energy consumption and eliminate pollution in Daejeon.
Technologies related to the environment will be immensely valuable in the years ahead. If Daejeon leads the way, we can become a center for the world economy over the next 15 years.