"When conservation and culture clash"

Japan Post recently reported that its New Years postcards, of which about 30 billion were sent in December 2007, actually contained only half the amount of recycled paper originally claimed. While 40% recycled paper is the standard set by Japan Post for all postcards sold to consumers, Nippon Paper Industries Co. admitted that the postcards they produced contained a mere 20%. With billions of these being sent out every year, that's a lot of trees!

New Years PostcardsNew Years PostcardsMasatomo Nakamura of Nippon Paper Industries, acknowledging his company changed the ratio without permission, boldly stated that "We put priority on quality rather than on being compliant." With the recent popularity of carbon-reduction, "my bag," "my chopsticks," cool/warm biz, and the Minus 6% movement, isn't this way of thinking a little out-of-date?

Over packaging of everything from foods to feminine products and decadent neon billboards left and right put Japan far behind other conversation savvy countries such as New Zealand and those in the EU, but environmental awareness is growing and people are becoming increasingly educated. New Years postcards may be an important part of Japanese culture, but there are ways to continue practicing the custom of New Years greetings without consuming so many natural resources. In a country where almost every single person carries a cell phone, why not go digital?

And after last year's seemingly endless stream of scandals and scams, with the 2007 "Kanji of the Year" declared to be counterfeit/imitation (偽-nise), is this a sign of even darker days to come?


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Comments

Culture normally resembles pattern of human activity acquired over a long period of time, mainly emphasising meaningful behaviour. However, while in the past human activity and sometimes consequent adverse impact on the planet used to be a rather local affair, things are changing rapidly for that matter.

Normally one should respect other people's culture. (I personally regard the Japanese culture in general as something good.) Unfortunately these postcards containing less than possible recycled material and other environmentally damaging Japanese activities, such as for example whaling, have a global consequence. There is neither space nor time for political correctness when it comes to prevent - or at least slowing down - global (planet Earth wide) irreversible damage.

Some genuine cultural behaviour and other recently acquired pattens - mainly modern lifestyle related - cause implications on the environment and are by no means a Japanese phenomena, excluding the whaling!

When cultural activities threaten to damage the environment, especially the atmosphere and climate - then culture becomes a threat to the life support system of spaceship Earth. If a culture does not allow to adapt quickly, then it has become bad culture. It is as simple as that.

While God or the gods - pick one according to your believe system - have eternal time and patience (they may even have time to wait for the next big bang) to watch the human species wrecking their one and only habitat, our children have not. In case you do not believe in God(s), then rest assured that the evolution does not give a rat's patootie (ass) about the well being of the next generations - it rather will "enjoy" the rapid change. The chances are good for many of us to see for ourselves extreme storms blowing the roof off our own house even before passing it on to our children.

The underlying and very serious problem is that human mass behaviour normally only changes based on a series of small catastrophes - in case change implies less comfort, less profit, etc. However, the started and accelerating climate change, eventually resulting in a climate chaos, does not allow for sufficient time for this rather gradual approach of human mass behaviour. It is unprecedented and more severe than anything else humanity (and other innocent life forms such as animals and plants (recently)) have faced before.

If you are young and planning on having a family with kids, then please let me know what drugs you take - excluding hormones currently clouding your mind (perfectly human) - in case you do not believe global warming is happening and if you think someone else or the government will get it sorted, while you do not have to take drastic action for yourself.

If events like a global recession, global markets meltdown, the Dow Jones Index falling below 8000 again, your over-mortgaged property becoming devalued and interest rates rising, some of your other buy now - pay later schemes falling apart, the USD finally eventually really imploding, the current fiat money system crumbling (see for example http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279 or just search for "fiat money youtube"(without quotes, you may also omit youtube, but you may miss some very good videos)), this world finally running out of oil and other (carbon-dioxide producing) fossil fuels (which will unfortunately fall in line with climate chaos), some "irrelevant" small nation islands disappearing under water, having a make-up meltdown at the most inconvenient moment, ... are your main concerns (which would be perfectly human and also based on culture), then you also have not understood what the impending climate chaos is all about.

I personally believe that seriously disturbing the life support system of a spaceship - even as big as planet Earth - while there is no tangible chance to board another spaceship or planet, will be the biggest mistake, ever, for a very long while. It will dwarf any of the other above mentioned possible unfortunate global events.

It is not about many people suffering for a while, it is about many generations of people to suffer for a long time.

Regarding business, depending on your optimism, investing and inventing in green technologies will turn out to be very profitable - at least for a while. Otherwise just reject environmentally unfriendly products, habits; challenge life styles, and if required, also culture.

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