Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Whaling issue from the perspective of global environment conservation
ONO Goro  / Professor, Saitama University

September 30, 2000
When I was invited to the International Meeting on Environment and Policy in Madrid in 1992, as the only non-European participant, I argued for the need to discuss the issues of conservation of global environment more scientifically than emotionally, doubting all commonly accepted views. This opinion of mine was supported by a large majority of participants, including many NGOs.

To begin with, in many of the environmental issues, in which a very wide range of factors intertwine with each other, what seems to be correct microscopically is not always so macroscopically. Furthermore, in order to address such issues involving a broad range of matters as environmental issues, it is naturally desirable to involve as many individuals and nations as possible, since such wide involvements would help find a sense of direction, which is indispensable for an effective conservation of global environment. I am afraid that we might fail to find such sense of direction, if we depend on the values of specific individuals or nations which vary among them. We can only overcome this dilemma to transcend differences among values of various individuals and nations by adopting scientific positivism and logical consistency as our common yardsticks. In other words, we should not impose on others certain values of a specific individual or a nation, apart from these objective criteria.

From this standpoint, I believe that it is necessary to show a degree of understanding towards such views, as I argued for at the Madrid meeting, that "irrigation agriculture might be more evil than slash-and-burn farming," or "livestock farming might be worse than whaling", even they are opposite to commonly accepted views.

Let me expound why I dare contradict common views as follows. First, with regard to slash-and-burn farming, I hold that the practice does not harm ecosystem as long as slash-and-burning is practiced in a cycle of 30 to 60 years, whereas irrigation agriculture not only requires enormous volumes of chemicals, fertilizers and energy but also directly causes environmental hazards such as soil effluence and salification. Secondly from the viewpoint of the food chain, whales feed directly on animal plankton while livestock are at the end of a several-step process, which runs from plankton through anchovies and feed crops, before reaching the livestock.

Needless to say, from the scientific standpoint to conserve diversity of species, there are needs for the protection of tropical rain forests or restriction of whaling. If this is so, however, desert deforestation requires arrangements not to cause the extinction of desert species.

What needs to be done now is to interrupt irreversible increase in entropy which has been caused by mass consumption of energy in our civilization, as we are not yet in possession of human intelligence that can reverse this irreversible phenomenon.

Neverthless we must also reject what some of fanatic naturalists call "recovery of ecosystem with the extinction of humankind" as a meaningless proposition. Human race itself is part of our ecosystem and its exclusion would alter the very system.

Thus, we would end up with the only possible direction, namely, the establishment of a "resource-recycling" civilization within the limit of self-healing capacity of our ecosystem. There, away from the sentimental discussion of how to preserve nature as it is, the ultimate objective would be how we utilize natural resources in an effective and sustainable fashion and furthermore how human race can co-exist in this ecosystem, while satisfying the two requirements of the "maintenance of the self-healing capacity of the ecosystem" and the "preservation of diversity of species".

In these days when the very existence of human species itself is questioned, what is required of us is to discuss how we can utilize global common resources, including marine, forest and mineral resources, and how we distribute them among us, while caring hunger-suffering developing countries and our future generations. We must solidly reject horse-trading in favor of the interests of certain countries or certain values of specific people.

The writer is a professor of economic policy studies at Saitama University.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

小野 五郎 / 埼玉大学経済学部教授

2000年 9月 30日

元より、きわめて広範な要素が有機的に絡み合う環境問題では、ミクロ的には正しく思えることが、必ずしもマクロ的にも正しいとは限らない。また、これだけ広範 な事項に絡む問題では、人により民族により異なる価値観に依拠していたのでは、すべての個人すべての民族の参加という、地球環境保全に不可欠な方向性が見出せなくなってしまおう。この個々人や民族による価値観の相違を超え、採用すべき共通規範は、「実証的科学性」「論理的整合性」をおいてはあるまい。逆から言えば、そうした客観的規範から離れて、特定個人や特定国家の価値観を押しつけてはならないので ある。   

■ 焼畑は30~60年周期で行なうかぎりは生態系の循環の中で完結しうるのに対して、灌漑農業は大量の肥料・農薬・エネルギーを要することに加えて、土壌流出、塩化などの直接的な環境破壊を招く。
■ 食物連鎖を見れば、鯨は動物プランクトンを直接餌としているのに対して、牧畜では動物プランクトン→アンチョビ→飼料作物→家畜と数段階を要するからである。  





人類そのものの存亡が問題とされる今日、我々に求められることは、水産資源・ 森林資源・鉱物資源を含め、すべての地球公共財について、どのような利用形態を取るべきか、また、それを――飢餓に苦しむ後発展途上国さらには子孫に対する配慮をも含めて――どのように配分すべきかについての討議であって、一部の国の利害や一部の人間の価値観から出る駆け引きではあるまい。

一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Whaling issue from the perspective of global environment conservation