Japan reduced CO2 emissions by about 1.4 million tons last year, in part by cutting back on air conditioning. This was made more comfortable by dispensing with the business suit and tie culture.

However, extensive commercial building and increases in transportation are making it difficult for Japan to meet its promises for the future.

Also in Japan, the solar energy industry is turning a profit, but remains expensive- this is keeping some consumers from switching to a solar system.

The above three articles from NPR (National Public Radio) shed light on progress and difficulties in a country that long ago recognized the Kyoto Accord and subsequent Kyoto Protocol, which address CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases and global warming.

Meanwhile, Diane Rehm‘s 10 am October 2, 2007, show on NPR dealt with rising food costs and the effect of corn-ethanol on the environment and society. While I didn’t hear the whole show yet, I did not find myself agreeing with some of the guests’ support for corn ethanol and its supposed economic benefits. In particular, one guest seemed to be skirting the issue by talking about reduced CO2 emissions instead of total energy costs when comparing the use of corn-derived ethanol (mixed with gasoline/petrol) in an automobile vs. gasoline/petrol alone. However, I still need to do more reading of current research before giving a complete answer.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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  1. I agree; corn ethanol seems questionable at best. I don’t think it’s a good long-term solution.

  2. Thanks very much for the comment and feedback!

    Yes. There are a lot of issues (most here are as reported on the October 2nd 2007 Diane Rehm show- I recommend listening to the audio!). One is that farmers who used to plant food crops are now no longer doing so. This is raising prices of all food, literally, not just corn. Another is that in the rush to cash in, crop rotation is being ignored , requiring more synthetic fertilizer (which is made with the help of fossil fuels). Another point made by one of Ms. Rehm’s guests was that as planting corn spreads to new areas of the country, those areas are suffering from new pests that never bothered the farmers before (corn may be more vulnerable to insects, etc., in some environments than others). Another is the environmental cost of farming, in terms of runoff into fresh and salt water, without the payoff of actually producing food. This still ignores the fact that many chemists, though not all, believe that the energy benefits are simply fictional. I feel that this is true, though it may be close, and STILL have to read more. So, more to come!

  3. Yeah, I hear you. My fiction blog has better design, located over on blogspot. This is plainness personified. I’m still more committed to content than anything else, by far, but I will be getting help with moderninzing this blog in a few weeks. I can’t seem to use my familiar tools from blogspot (JAVAscipt, anyone?), but I’m old, so maybe I just don’t get it. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. NNBN, Thanks for those articles about the difficulties Japan has been facing with environmental issues. I must admit, though, my favorite was actually the one about Japanese government offices installing the “Biz Cool” philosophy and upping the thermostats. It’s amazing that they took that kind of initiative in making steps to reduce carbon emissions like that. If only more people could do things like that on an individual basis…

    Oh, btw, have you ever written anything about biodiesel? I was just ready a few articles about it on Mongabay.com, particularly concerning the deforestation of Thailand in order to produce biofuels that are mostly used by people in the Netherlands who thing they are doing the Earth a favor by using biodiesel. Such a quandary. Anyway, I was just wondering if you have any thoughts on the topic…

  5. Hi Rainypenguin: Thanks for the feedback and thoughtful comments. I agree that we can do a lot, “just” by individual initiative, to cut energy costs, whether it is car-pooling, using public transportation, voting for public transportation, etc. It is always great to hear about those efforts, and the organization of such efforts by a large group is even better.

    Regarding biodiesel, yes, actually, the immediately previous post about Jane Goodall’s comments is partly related to biodiesel. I’ll write my next post on it, too.

    I hope to see you back for more discussion! Jim

    p.s. I have a few posts on my literature site, nearlynothingbutnovels (NNBN), dealing with the environment and dating to before I started this blog. Links to NNBN are found on this page. If you search NearlyNothingbutNovels.blogspot.com by clicking the label “EPA”, you will find pages with links to a number of additional resources for learning about Green Chemistry and the environment. I should move everything over here.

  6. Hi Rainypenguin- nice site. I put it on my blogroll. I also wrote an initial biofuels post in partial response to your question. Jim

  1. 1 Go Smell The Flowers! » Go! See the Changes

    […] behind making the world a better place by reducing pollution we suggest you follow the link to Chemistry for a Sustainable World and get reading. Maybe we can also encourage our fellow blogger to pick out a new more unique blog […]




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