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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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日本は課題先進国?

 


映画『エリジウム』を観たおりに以下のように書かせていただきました。

「人口爆発」「資源不足」「食糧不足」というのは、現実味のある問題として考えられ始めていますから、このような映画も生まれるのでしょう。タブー承知で書かせてもらえば、「間引き」という誘惑に人類は勝てるのか、ついつい考えてしまいます。自分はマルサスのような悲観論者ではありませんが、倫理や道徳さえ脇にやれば、一番簡単な解決法になってしまいます。現に、日本でも「おしん」の世界のような身売りみたいなものは、昭和初期まであったんですから。。。

人口が多すぎる事を問題視した本が9月下旬に出ていたのですね。NYTのBook ReviewのPodcastで知り、早速本を読んでみました。Kindle版はなかったのですが、ジュンク堂池袋店で買う事ができました。

Oct. 13, 2013
This week, Jonathan Franzen discusses his “Kraus Project”; Julie Bosman has notes from the field; Alan Weisman talks about “Countdown”; and Gregory Cowles has best-seller news. Pamela Paul is the host



Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?
(2013/09/24)
Alan Weisman

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無理矢理タイトルに意図を読み込もうとすれば、人口爆発で地球存続のカウントダウンが始まっている事と、人口の数を減らす事(=カウントをダウンしろ!)でこの危機を乗り越えることができるという二つの意味を掛けているのかもしれません。

Earth Control
‘Countdown,’ by Alan Weisman
By NATHANIEL RICH
Published: October 11, 2013

“Countdown” is a bleak sequel to “The World Without Us,” Weisman’s elegant account of what would happen to the planet should human beings suddenly vanish. That book drew its subtle and visceral power from Edenic descriptions of an Earth reclaimed by its forests and oceans, healing from the wounds inflicted by civilization. With its imaginative force and vivid storytelling, it had the power of the best speculative fiction; but in “Countdown,” “there’s no imagining.”

Perhaps motivated by the urgency of his theme, or frustration over the intransigence of the problem, Weisman abandons subtlety in favor of making his message — we need to slow our rate of procreation, if we want to survive — explicitly and didactically in every chapter. His dire warnings, and the warnings of the scientists and government officials he interviews, are unrelenting, with variations of the following sentence appearing at regular intervals: “In the entire history of biology, every species that outgrows its resource base suffers a population crash — a crash sometimes fatal to the entire species.”



「人口減少経済」の新しい公式―「縮む世界」の発想とシステム「人口減少経済」の新しい公式―「縮む世界」の発想とシステム
(2004/05)
松谷 明彦

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このニューヨークタイムズの書評だと日本の例がロボットを導入して少子化に対応しているという奇異な感じで紹介されていましたが、Weismanの本ではShrink and Prosper(縮小と繁栄)とむしろ良い例として紹介されていました。『「人口減少経済」の新しい公式―「縮む世界」の発想とシステム』の著者である松谷 明彦さんも登場して彼の試みも評価しています。

Metaphors bring us closer. Over the course of the book, man is likened to a cancer; to “a voracious monoculture” that sucks “resources in at the cost of the rest of life on the planet”; and to the mule deer of Arizona’s Kaibab Plateau, an example of a species once “doomed to ­overpopulate.”

But the book’s most indelible image comes from Weisman’s visit to Japan, where the fertility rate is so low — 1.4 children per female — that the population has been declining since 2006. This might make Japan something of a best-case situation, but an aging population means there are too many senior citizens, and not enough young people to take care of them. Already Japan has a shortage of geriatric nurses. Weisman visits Nagoya Science Park, where Japan’s oldest scientific firm has built RIBA II, a robotic white bear designed to carry elderly people around the house. It has large, widely-spaced black eyes, cute little ears and a painted smile.
“I will do my best,” says the bear, as it approaches a man who is lying on a hospital bed. “I will carry you as though you were a princess.”
RIBA II slides one paw under the patient’s knees, the other beneath his back. The robot cradles the man in its arms. It carries the man across the room, and lowers him tenderly into a wheelchair.
“I’m finished,” announces RIBA II, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the robot speaks for us all.



動画3 5分あたりからコウノトリ(stork)が戻ってくるようになった兵庫県豊岡市の試みを紹介していますが、Shrink and Prosperの章の最後の部分が以下です。里山などの日本の試みを紹介していて、ロハス的な世界を積極的に評価しています。

The value to be reaped from tourists and fancy organic rice is easy to quantify. Harder, but most critical, is calculating the value of nature – what conservation ecologists call natural capital. How much is a grasshopper worth, anyway, if nature always provided them for free? Trees in forests were free. Rivers and the atmosphere were free places to toss wastes. Free, but ultimately costly, when they vanish or can hold no more.

The accounting of nature’s capital has never included in corporate balance sheets, but every prechemical farmer knew it well. In a Japan with far fewer Japanese, as Japan will inevitably become this century, there is a chance for natural capital to replenish, and for people to enjoy healthier, even happier lives.

The rice fields may yield less, if humans mush share the grains with grasshoppers – but with fewer humans, that won’t be such a problem.

人口増を問題にすると、家族計画=避妊が有効な対策として出てきます。この本でも避妊の大切さを伝えようとしていて、一番成功した例としてイランを挙げていました。女性への教育が一番効果的のようです。日本も戦後すぐに避妊を合法化しているんですね。

Book review: ‘Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?’ by Alan Weisman
By Fred Pearce,October 10, 2013

Weisman’s biggest good-news story, however, comes from another supposed heartland of theocracy: Iran. In 1987, a month after its bloody conflict with Iraq ended, Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the development of what Weisman calls the best voluntary family-planning program in the world. It has since cut the average family size from eight children to fewer than two.
Across the world, he talks to women who want fewer children and men who want more. He understands a big truth: Solving the population problem requires helping women take greater control of their reproductive lives, rather than snatching it from them.


こういう悲観論が出るとどうしても人間の課題解決力や新技術への期待を述べたくなります。ワシントンポストの書評もそのようなかたちで締めていました。

Weisman is probably right to say that, at 7 billion people, we have overshot for now. But who knows what the greener and smarter technologies of the future may allow? Who knows what could be achieved if we used what we have already? Ehrlich’s doomsday prediction of billions starving in the 1980s failed to spot that the green revolution would double world food production in the final 30 years of the 20th century. Today, solar energy, electric cars, drip irrigation and a few other easily available technologies could dramatically increase the world’s carrying capacity.

Weisman, however, makes no such predictions. Forecasting what humans might do is harder than working out how nature would respond to our absence. He is gloomy, warning that “technological leaps have yet to solve anything without causing other unforeseen problems.” Sure. But maybe the first farmers were chastised on similar grounds. Innovating is what our species does. We are problem-solvers, for better or worse. The countdown continues.

人口を減らすことができれば、二酸化炭素排出の問題もそれほど気にしなくてよくなるようですが、経済発展から背を向けてそのような方向に舵を取る事ができるかどうか。。。

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