The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave the world approximately fifteen years to act before irreversible, catastrophic harm is done to the atmosphere. This may sound like an ultimatum, but to those who have been fighting to save the Earth this is not intended to be a "gun to the head" sort of campaign. Because, well, they've tried that. They've been trying it for decades to little avail. This time they are attempting to cut despair with a bit of optimism. The central focus seems to be that solutions exist and implementation is more practical than ever, particularly when it comes to the cost of alternative energy.
Perhaps no issue is more pertinent to defining a post-American world than the crisis we face with the environment. The one thing that cares not about borders or nationalities is the air we breathe. Korea posts air quality ratings on electric billboards throughout the country and is quick to point to China as the source of all of their yellow-dusted woes. China is no doubt a massive contributor to air pollution, but they are also a conveniently nearby scapegoat that allows Koreans to ignore the impact of the immense traffic that crisscrosses Seoul and all the other larger cities here. Anyone who has sat motionless on the Korean highways during the daily rush hour can attest to the massive amounts of greenhouse gases generated on this peninsula.
In the end, the forces of greed and sloth are pitted against those other aspects of human character that seem harder to name as prevalent forces even within this sentence. The good news is, and always has been, that people want to do good. People want to save the Earth. People want to live in a better world. Or at least this seems to be the case if we consider the top trending videos from Upworthy, Shareworthy, or whatever the latest website is to jump on that train.
Saving this Earth is going to be difficult because the system is designed to antagonize that process and it will take a system-wide approach to make any real impact. But that doesn't preclude steps that each of us can take to minimize the impact of our consumption. The Buddhist concept of mindfulness seems an apt one to apply to our energy usage, food choices, and shopping habits. Recently there has been a positive trend in Seoul towards slow, organic, locally grown foods. Many Koreans had feared that the FTA with the United States would destroy the Korean farmer, but this should only be motivation to bolster a sector that for too long has been stigmatized as low-class and is carried out by a rapidly aging population.
In a publication sent with recent shipments of the newly created Korean branch of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), the farmer Byung Soo Kim lamented that global warming and industrialization has altered the foundations of Korean food production. "When we were younger," he said, "we were able to find different shapes, sizes, and types of apples but now the only type of apple you find in supermarkets is the ‘busa’ that came over from Japan." He pins his hopes on a few organizations that are preserving native Korean seeds, an important step in continuing their existence and in safeguarding against potential blights that can wipe out a region laden with monoculture.
And so we welcome you to The Post American #5–The Birth of Death Issue. E.O. Wilson used the phrase “the death of birth” to describe the extinction of species. We found the inversion of his words a more fitting description of the current state of the environment. The hard labor is over, the toxic byproducts of industrialization and modernity has been delivered. This issue stands as a witness to the birth of death. In the following pages we will consider how the tainted environment impacts our lives and our bodies. We will consider the pollution we put in our mouths, our ears, our eyes, and our lungs. Anywhere you can stuff crap, really. And, as always, we are light on solutions and heavy on complaints, for we are entering the golden age of decline. Please enjoy and let us know what you think.
Issue 5–Recommended Beverage: Green Tea