Category Archives: Environment


This proposal was made to the cities of Palo Alto, Tsukuba and Daejeon in 2009 and we added Shenzhen in 2010. Although we were able to arrange three meetings between representatives of Palo Alto, Tsukuba and Shenzhen in 2010, ultimately the proposal was not followed up on. I do see the discussion, however, as historically significant and I look forward to a day when we can begin the conversation again.







January, 2009



There is a tremendous demand today for an ecologically sustainable urban environment that reduces radically waste, minimizes energy usage, has a positive impact on the world’s climate, and improves the health of citizens and the livability of urban spaces. In order to achieve such a transformation in cities across the country, however, we must first establish several model ecocities quickly which are sensitive to the needs of the particular country and function efficiently with the support of citizens. Those model ecocities will be the inspiration for other efforts within the country to create next-generation ecocities that handle in the most modern and most environmentally nonintrusive manner garbage disposal, water management, parks, wild spaces, alternative energy, insulation, transportation etc.

The best place for a cutting edge ecocity is in a city of relatively small dimensions because it can be transformed more rapidly than larger urban communities. Moreover, that city should be home to a major technology cluster in which access to the most advanced research in all fields relevant to an ecocity are readily available. Finally, because the threat of climate change is global, the effort to develop a model ecocity at the local level using all available technologies from the research cluster should be part of a global effort. Comparing notes, exchanging strategies, even sharing the costs of developing a cutting-edge ecocity between several cities can have great benefits and the international component will draw greater attention to the effort itself domestically and globally.




The three cities that would be at the center of this Ecocity Alliance from the start will be Palo Alto, home to Stanford University and at the center of Silicon Valley, Daejeon, home of KAIST, Korea’s leading technical university and multiple research institutes and Tsukuba (Japan), home of Tsukuba University, RIKEN, AIST and other scientific research institutes. Each of these cities is close to a larger metro city (San Francisco, Tokyo and Seoul, respectively) and each has outstanding faculty and research facilities related to all fields required to establish a next-generation ecocity.


THE SIGNIFICANCE of the Ecocity Alliance



Not only can the three cities share their strategies, their technical expertise and their ideas, the international exchanges between experts, parents and school children engendered by this effort will be a source of excitement and stimulation. Moreover, these exchanges will allow citizens to fully grasp the global nature of the environmental crisis. High school students will have the opportunity travel to the other “sister ecocities” to conduct studies (or perhaps do joint studies with their peers in the other countries via the Internet). Costs for purchasing materials, or hiring consultants, can be split between the three cities.


As each city becomes a model ecocity for its own country, the benefits to the research institutes will only increase, and the livability of the cities will make them more attractive to faculty.


Concrete Steps:

Short term:
Establish closer working relations among Asian countries on environmental and energy issues. Participants will effectively identify possible areas for collaboration and learn from other cities.
Medium term:
Establish benchmarks for ecocities and initiate formal sister ecocity connections; establish a system for objectively evaluating achievements of ecocities using the Yale Index or the UNDP index at the local level.
Efforts will be made to strengthen ties to international organizations, to engage in dialogue on curricular change with educators and students from urban studies and architecture programs, and to encourage practical change in how city planning is viewed on the level of local government.


Demonstrate the impact of local changes on national policy; demonstrate a measurable effect on global environmental indicators; establish global standards for ecocities.
Determine criteria for recognition as 1) beginning ecocity 2) established ecocity 3) advanced ecocity.

Award recognition, opportunities for investment, etc. for cities that reach the advanced level.
Establish an EMN (Ecocity Mayor’s Network).
Publication, in multiple languages, of a manual for setting up an ecocity.

1) To publish materials in multiple languages outlining basic strategies for reducing energy use and improving the environment in coordination with other organizations. These materials are aimed at local government and citizens.
2) To build close working relationships between local governments to discuss common concerns and put forth proposals for cooperation.
3) To arrange for the joint purchases of materials (such as solar cells) in large quantity so as to reduce the cost.
4) To administer a system for the open exchange of information concerning strategies and technologies.
5) To organize ecocity conferences and symposiums.
6) To undertake joint applications by multiple ecocities to international organizations for funding.
7) To establish evaluation criteria for assessing the progress of Ecocities and creating incentives for ecocities in cooperation with central governments and international organizations.
8) To promulgate new standards for measuring growth that take into account environmental factors; also translating and popularizing these standards at the local level. To recommend and to advise in the implementation of careful evaluation programs for environmental issues at the local level using Yale Index, UNDP index or some other standard.

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“Bring back the five-year plan” (JoongAng Daily October 27, 2016)

JoongAng Daily

“Bring back the five-year plan”

October 27, 2016

Emanuel Pastreich

There was a time when Korea’s best and brightest drafted meticulous five-year plans for the development of technologies as part of a 30-year vision for Korea’s future needs. Starting in 1962 and continuing until 1981, these plans set out goals and mobilized resources to build expertise, construct infrastructure, obtain technology and assure a broad understanding among the population of the challenges that Korea faced.

Such five-year plans continued until 1996, although they lost their focus on infrastructure and technology. However, long-term government support for science and technology remains in place, such as the “basic plan for developing biotechnology” through 2026.

Such research and development, however, focused too much on creating products for global markets, rather than technology aimed at addressing directly the threats that Korea faces.

The time has come for the re-establishment of five-year plans for Korea, but with the adaptation to climate change, and the mitigation of energy consumption, as the primary goal.

But development should consist of forecasting the future and planning for it based on three points.

First, what will be the state of the environment in Korea in 10, 20 or 30 years? What will be the sea level and the frequency of droughts, super-storms and flash floods? What will be the state of the soil, of forests, of agricultural land and of fish populations?

Second, what technologies will be available by that future date granted the current rate of technological evolution? How can those technologies be implemented quickly to assure that Korea is carbon-free and can respond to threats?

Third, how long will it take to design and implement the new infrastructure based on that technology so as to respond in time to future climate threats?

We should start with a five-year plan that requires all buildings to employ solar panels and be properly insulated by 2021. The plan would involve industry, academia and government and cover technology, commercialization, citizens’ education and urban planning with a focus on empowering local groups to participate. Solar film to place on windows and cutting-edge insulation materials should be quickly adopted. Other plans should be implemented for the response to super-storms, to rising sea levels, and to protect forests and oceans and farmland.

These five-year plans should not be aimed only at producing products for export, but rather at meeting the challenges of protecting Korea against the threats of climate change. Preparations for responding to rising seas and a warmer climate must be carried out as a national security agenda without a fixation on markets.

Finance for these projects must be generated increasingly within Korea, and finance must be increasingly directed toward the concrete demands of the response to climate change at the national level, and not toward speculation or short-term investments unrelated to the national interest.

Ultimately, this crisis may force us to go back to the drawing board and ask whether industries like shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, steel and petrochemicals will lead Korea’s future in light of the overwhelming threat of climate change. The government must show bravery, true leadership, by mapping out the equivalent of a war-time economy to integrate emerging technologies with infrastructure demands to respond over the long term to this profound threat. There can be no sacred cows.

The government must put in place a series of five-year plans for industrial development with a set of concrete goals for reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels, increasing insulation, efficiency, awareness and the broad adoption of new technologies, and more importantly, systems of technology, habits, policy and culture that will allow Korea to reach its goals very rapidly. Moreover, the manner in which Korea innovates to achieve these goals more rapidly than other industrialized nations will become in itself a valuable product that Korea can share with the world.

Two sets of five-year plans should be put in place. One for adaptation to climate change and one for mitigation of climate change. Both are equally important, and both must be closely linked to be successful. Moreover, the plans require a change in the culture, the habits, the assumptions of Koreans, and also massive reforms in finance, trade and investment policy that will set Korea free of oil money and petroleum imports and make it a global model.

Great Law of the Iroquois, the “seventh generation” and the crisis of climate change

Perhaps the greatest example of law in the United States is the “Great Law of the Iroquois,” a constitution in which the Iroquois asserted that in all planning we must consider what the impact will be for people in the next century. I would agrue that government in Joseon Korea also had something of this vision, but how profoundly different from what we see today. Is there a means to bring back that Seven generation stewardship in our lost age, facing climate disaster?

“Great Law of the Iroquois – which holds appropriate to think seven generations ahead (about 140 years into the future) and decide whether the decisions they make today would benefit their children seven generations into the future. ”

The Real Problem with the enviroment

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

Gus Speth

Professor at Vermont Law School

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Earth Citizens Organization

I have taken up the cause of the Earth Citizens Organization and I ask that you join with me.
Thank you.
On September 11, 2013, EARTH CITIZENS ORGANIZATION (ECO) was formed to develop leaders committed to making a difference in their lives and communities for a healthier and sustainable world.
Since that date, ECO’s focus has been on providing training and education, developing training facilities, and organizing community events that help people live mindfully and get healthier naturally. Through these actions, ECO desires to catalyze a shift that will change the future of the world to one of peace and sustainability. We call this collaborative effort the Earth Citizen Movement. Our goal is reaching 1% of the world’s population and to help them incorporate Earth Citizenship into their lifestyle and daily choices.


ECO was named to reflect our belief that we are all citizens of the Earth and share the responsibility to care for the Earth’s well being in every way. Sharing this idea and creating changes in our daily lives is the essence of the Earth Citizen Movement.


The seed of the Earth Citizen Movement was planted by one person when he started teaching exercise at a public park in South Korea 30 years ago. This person was Ilchi Lee. He believed, and still believes, that hope for a better world lies in awakening the greatness in human nature, and has dedicated his life to helping people harness their brain potential. It was through his dedication and spirit that ECO was created.

Throughout his life, Ilchi Lee has strived to help millions of people worldwide enhance their physical, mental, and spiritual capabilities by learning to control and direct the energy of their brains. He has formed several non-profit and for-profit organizations, authored over 30 books, including New York Times Bestseller “The Call of Sedona,” and organized numerous events to help bring that vision to fruition.



ECO plans to expand its education to develop Earth Citizen Leaders by creating an online education system and building Earth Citizens Learning Centers in major cities, including its main campus in Northern Arizona.

Earth Citizen Learning Center in Arizona is an educational center where people can visit, experience and learn all aspects of sustainable living such as healthy eating, natural health, organic farming, sustainable housing, renewable energy and water-recycling. ECO Learning Center will provide training programs targeted towards young leaders of our community.

“No to coal!” button (February 29, 2016)

I recently asked a friend to design a button for me to protest the increased use of cheap coal with a high sulfur content in Korea. The air in Korea is growing worse rapidly in Korea the last few years, and the primary reason is the complete lack of regulation of emissions. What is most disturbing to me is the complete lack of concern on the part of Koreans who have to breath the air every day here.

I made a “No to Coal! Killing us slowly” pin recently and had a friend do the final design. I have worn it on almost all my jackets. But many Koreans do not seem to understand what it refers to.

I am happy to give one to anyone who is interested.

And please do start to make an effort to reduce the carbon in the air and the micro-particles as well.



“Time for the US to Start a RIMPAC for Climate Change” (The Diplomat, January 20, 2016)

The Diplomat

“Time for the US to Start a RIMPAC for Climate Change”

January 20, 2016



Rising tensions between China and Japan over territorial issues, combined with disputes over historical issues such as the Korean comfort women, have created a political environment that encourages military responses and confrontation. The recent nuclear test by North Korea has heightened the distrust to such a level that we can look forward to a massive arms race that will involve not only the nations of Northeast Asia, but possibly those of Southeast Asia as well.

Now is the moment for moral courage on the part of the United States. The United States, and specifically the Pacific Command, must step forward and engage in honest and practical dialog on security issues. It needs to suggest innovative, collaborative approaches to security problems, interacting with all the nations of the region in a transparent manner that encourages cooperation, not competition. We must make sure that security and defense policies are not rooted in an unimaginative and outdated Cold War conception of deterrence and containment, but rather are responses to emerging nontraditional threats.

The recent Paris Climate Conference (COP 21 Paris) has laid down concrete demands for a rapid shift to a low-carbon model for development that should serve as the basis for closer collaboration in military affairs between the United States, Japan, Korea and China, and ASEAN nations.

The Pacific Command should engage all members of the Asian community in a deep dialog about how the region’s militaries can transform military relations in the region. This transformation would take place through the military’s transitioning to play a leading role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and it would create a new, regional, cooperative culture in the Pacific. Read more of this post

Public events at the Paris Climate Summit prohibited

Here is today’s notice from 350.ORG which is organizing a protest on the occasion of the COP Meeting in Paris.

In a sense the content is entirely predictable. We are being led down a rabbit hole and away from addressing the most serious security threat in history. Now I think the significance of recent developments should be apparent.



Yesterday, we got some disappointing news. Citing security concerns, the French government has prohibited many of the Paris mobilizations and events connected to the upcoming climate summit from going forward — including the massive march being planned for November 29th.

This is a heavy blow, especially for the many organizers who have been working around the clock for months to bring hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets of Paris. It’s a heavy blow, too, because it makes our job — of making sure this summit actually yields real, ambitious results — that much harder.

While activists in Paris are revising their plans, it’s up to the rest of us to kick it up a notch.

The Global Climate March — which already consists of thousands of events, small and large, all around the world — will continue. From London to Los Angeles, Quito to Quezon City, people are still taking to the streets.

Organizers in Paris are still reeling from Friday’s terrible attacks, and now they’re scrambling to figure out what they can still do to have an impact in the face of a potentially repressive security situation.

We need to speak up for activists in Paris, who are struggling to be heard. Those of us who can mobilize, must. The Paris Climate Summit is still a crucial opportunity for world governments to send a signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the world needs this sort of global cooperation urgently.

Even as climate change contributes to conflict around the world, this summit is an opportunity for us to come together and finally grapple with the scale of the problem we’re facing. Unfortunately, that’s not the sort of ambition that governments and politicians muster on their own. That’s the sort of thing only mass social movements have the power to make happen.





Buddhist Economics as seen by E. F. Schumacher

In preparation for my short remarks at tomorrow’s Seoul Climate-Energy Conference, I started rereading E. F. Schumacher’s classic book and stumbled on his chapter “Buddhist Economics” which builds on his ideas about a participatory economy based on his experiences learning about Buddhism while in Burma in 1955. Perhaps we can find something of the future in his words today. He speaks of a “middle way” between  “materialist heedlessness” and “traditionalist immobility.”


E. F. Schumacher

Small is Beautiful



Chapter 4: Buddhist Economics


Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions. 

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give a man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence.

It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. 

From a Buddhist point of view, this is standing the truth on its head by considering goods as more important than people and consumption as more important than creative activity.

The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern—amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.

The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means.

From the point of view of Buddhist economics, therefore, production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.

Modern economics does not distinguish between renewable and non-renewable materials, as its very method is to equalize and quantify everything by means of a money price. 

Non-renewable goods must be used only if they are indispensable, and then only with the greatest care and the most meticulous concern for conservation. To use them heedlessly or extravagantly is an act of violence, and while complete non-violence may not be attainable on this earth, there is nonetheless an ineluctable duty on man to aim at the ideal of non-violence in all he does.

As the world’s resources of non-renewable fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—are exceedingly unevenly distributed over the globe and undoubtedly limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation at an ever-increasing rate is an act of violence against nature which must almost inevitably lead to violence between men.

Before they dismiss Buddhist economics as nothing better than a nostalgic dream, they might wish to consider whether the path of economic development outlined by modern economics is likely to lead them to places where they really want to be.

It is a question of finding the right path of development, the Middle Way between materialist heedlessness and traditionalist immobility, in short, of finding “Right Livelihood.”


Kissinger Institute on Security Challenges in East Asia

Just received this little treasure from the Kissinger Institute. You will notice that in the discussion of “Security Challenges in East Asia” climate change is not mentioned one time. What planet do these people think they are living on? If these so-called “security experts” keep leaving climate change out of their discussions, I am going to have to ask that they resign their positions due to their incompetence. Do you think I am kidding?



Kissinger Institute | Wilson Center

Security Challenges in East Asia

The National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) in collaboration with the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and Asia Program invite you to a public briefing on Security Challenges in East Asia based on recent high-level meetings in Taipei, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.

Issues that will be addressed include: Cross-strait relations in light of the January 2016 Taiwan presidential elections; prospects for managing frictions in U.S.-China relations; the North Korea nuclear issue;and the state of Sino-Japanese relations.


Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy
Distinguished Scholar, Kissinger Institute
Gerald Curtis
Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
Evans Revere
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution
Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt
Senior Fellow, Center for Naval Analyses


Donald Zagoria
Senior Vice President, National Committee on American Foreign Policy

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Monday, November 9, 2015
2:30 PM4:00 PM

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

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