by Ayaka Nishizaki
Environment and social are mutually created and environment inequality is one of sociological aspects. I think environment is also liked to technology and information. I would like to think environmental problems from these points: The unequal limitation of access to information, ineffective use of information, and relationship between information and unclear responsibility.
During class, I learned residents of lower class neighborhoods face a variety of risks. The manufacturing jobs are often given to immigrants or poor people who don’t understand English well and don’t understand what they’re being exposed to. I think it is connected with unequal access of information between the rich and poor. The poor is limited to access information, so they can’t get enough knowledge about environment (the article of ‘connecting communities: on and off line’). Also, the lack of information will cause not only their health can be exposed to danger by toxic materials in industries, but also people take some action for the environment in a wrong way.
I learned the concept “inverted quarantine” from the reading and class. We often don’t know how much the “eco” products help the environment. I think inverted quarantines are caused by a lack of correct information. I learned environmental issues since I was an elementary school student. But I was shocked that I haven’t known the exact meaning of “eco” until I started to learn by myself. In fact “eco” is not equal to “save energy (省エネ)”, but I saw many people and TV commercials use “eco” incorrectly.
It is true that we are surrounded by a bunch of information to learn, but why does the kind of wrong actions happen? Many Japanese including me had studied global warming or depletion of ozone layer in school. I studied a lot of definitions and words about the environment. However, I wondered ‘how can I use the knowledge in daily life in order to reduce CO2 or waste?’ We have learned a lot of things like helium or CO2 are bad for the environment, but I think those knowledge is not linked to taking environmental actions. Some people would say that recently, more Japanese schools have required students to take actions for environment, but I think some actions are not contributed to environmental improvement directly. Japanese people learned how to separate trash appropriately, but how many people know separating trash (分別) doesn’t always lead to recycling, or it encourages people to increase more consumption of plastic bottles? My point is that although there are many chances to access information, we don’t choose information effectively and don’t link such information to environmental improvement.
In addition, a lot of information make responsibility for polluted environment unclear. For example, mass media criticizes the Japanese government about an accident of nuclear power plant in Fukushima. On the other hand, other people say this responsibility is TEPCO. How can we decide who will take this responsibility? If people think the bad governance was the biggest cause of the accident, they will require Japanese government to take responsibility. If the old nuclear power plant was the most cause of accidents, TEPCO which haven’t reconstructed the plant for about 40 years should take responsibility. In my opinion, through a lot of information, responsibility becomes more unclear because information diversifies people’s thoughts and ideas (as we discussed ‘what is positive side when new culture/information is brought into our country?’). If a state-level accident such as the nuclear plant is related to many actors such as government and companies involved in the case, it is difficult to clarify the responsibility because of many people’s points of view.
As I mentioned above, the environment is strongly connected with information. Environmental problems, diversification of people’s ideas help our standard of living, but on the other hand, it makes it difficult to think what the most correct choice of information for the environment is.