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Japans eco-revolution runs out of steam (Eco news)


Japan's eco-revolution runs out of steam
National Post reported

Japanese trains run to the minute, and the country’s businesses pride themselves on energy efficiency. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities. Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes and import 60% of their food.

That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. Japan is at a crucial tipping point. As an island nation, it offers a microcosmic look at the economic and environmental problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world.

I landed in Tokyo’s Narita Airport on May 11, 2011, exactly two months after the magnitude 9.0 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami wave that killed an estimated 20,500 people and left a swath of destruction up to nine kilometres inland. That zone included the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where the loss of electric power led to a full meltdown of three out of six reactors (three reactors that did not meltdown have gone offline and are unlikely to return to service).

In the same way that we now refer to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, simply as “9/11,” the Japanese shorthand for March 11, 2011, the day of their triple disaster, is “3/11.”

Before 3/11, I had been invited to visit several of Japan’s so-called Eco-Model Cities. I figured that because the Japanese import virtually all of their fossil fuel and are technologically sophisticated, that they must be doing innovative things with renewable energy. Indeed, during my six-week odyssey, I saw solar panels, micro-hydro generators, wind turbines, electric vehicles, hydrogen power, biodiesel, wood pellet factories, compost made from human excrement, geothermal systems and model sustainable homes.

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