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

Let Us All Unite Against Global Climatic Catastrophe
ONO Goro / Professor, Saitama University

December 22, 2004
Throughout the year 2004, many parts of the world saw large-scale natural disasters arising from abnormal weather - searing heat, prolonged drought and forest fire, a succession of hurricanes of titanic scale, etc. – cause the loss of many lives and properties.

Some scientists ascribe these disasters to "global warming" caused by humankind, raise their voice to urge the world to "take immediate actions to curtail global warming". The others, however, reject such a view arguing that the Earth, in its long history, has seen many such "convulsions" of nature and claim that unusual weather of the year can not necessarily be linked to the human factor.

Due to these existing controversies the Kyoto Protocol, of which the former group of scientists had requested immediate implementation, had to go through a long and difficult path but eventually it went into effect with the Russian ratification of the accord. Whether the Protocol produces material results, however, is open to question because the United States, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), and China, whose CO2 emission growth rate is rapidly rising, are not participating due to the presence of the latter group of scientists.

When the two groups of scientists are taking diametrical positions like in this case, how can we find the optimal solution to the problem? Needless to say, a scientific problem requires a scientific solution. Furthermore, we need an answer based on the best possible scientific analysis in order that a solution is impartial and persuasive. Scientific explanation alone will be able to enable us to gain support from various inhabitants of this planet who entertain radically different views and diverse values based on their respective creed, ethnicity and nationality.

During Japan-US talks on the issue of BSE (mad cow disease), American negotiators insisted on the employment of a scientific risk analysis. The method they proposed was to compare the risk frequency ratio and risk-benefit ratio (cost of preventing risk/efficacy of risk prevention measures).

Though the US is critical of the Kyoto Protocol, we may be able to induce Washington to admit its effectiveness if we employ the same "scientific" method as they offered during the BSE negotiations.

As for the risk frequency ratio of global warming, since there are two opposing views, we can safely assume that the risk ratio would at least number "a few scores or so" of percentage points.

Then how can we assess the risk-benefit ratio of prevention measures? If we posit that the human-culpability theory to be true, benefits we can obtain from prevention measures should be enormous almost to the point of limitless. Then, however costly prevention measures may be, the risk-benefit ratio of global warming should be infinitely close to zero (finite number/infinite number).

Consequently, the best and right approach in tackling the problem of global warming is not to prove human culpability but to adopt every possible prevention measure unless and until it is proved that "human activities will never cause global warming."

Whoever negates this conclusion, whether it is a religious organization, ethnic group or nation, should not be forgiven as, by so doing, it is committing an act of blasphemy against God and Nature, degrading humanity and betraying its compatriots and brethren. We need to inculcate all men and women with this basic and universal tenet without delay.

Specifically, every individual, every household and every firm must stop squandering our precious resources and energy. Every national government and every ethnic group must cease forthwith from acts of war or terrorism which are harmful to our environment. These acts profane God and our brethren. If we neglect to act to allay the anger of God and Nature, we will for sure end up sacrificing numerous lives of brethren not only of our generation but also of future generations yet to come.

The writer is a Professor at Saitama University.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

小野五郎 / 埼玉大学教授

2004年 12月 22日










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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Let Us All Unite Against Global Climatic Catastrophe