A grade of ‘F’The results of a survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the level of public awareness of environmental issues in Korea were announced yesterday. It was an embarrassing reflection of Korea’s sensitivity to environmental issues, including global warming and the release of greenhouse gases.
Out of a perfect score of 100, based on four categories ― awareness, understanding, conviction and action ― the nationwide survey gave Koreans an average score of 53 points. That would be equal to a grade of ‘F.’
Also, although the average score for the awareness category was 70, the score for action was 30. In short, while people may be aware of the problems, few are doing anything about it.
Turning a blind eye to increasingly crucial environmental issues is a long-standing problem here. One example is the campaign for sensible automobile use, which started in 2004 as a way to ease traffic and prevent further air pollution. Even with government help to push the campaign along, the “my money, my spending” mentality of the general public prevails.
This kind of attitude is bewildering in a country that cannot produce even one drop of oil at a time when all the world’s richest countries are doing everything they can to stop further environmental damage.
The New York Times recently reported the rise in the U.S. of “Eco Moms.” Reading the examples set by these mothers, who walk their children to school to save on gasoline and reduce air pollution, and even reuse bath water, made our survey results all the more embarrassing.
Protecting the environment is no longer a choice ― it is a must, especially for our children and their future. Governmental and institutional intervention is not enough. Nationwide awareness and action on the part of everyone is needed.
Under these circumstances, the “Carbon Zero” campaign started yesterday. Organized jointly by Korea Energy Management Corporation and the JoongAng Ilbo, it aims to reduce the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This is a hopeful opportunity for Koreans to prove the survey wrong.
If we also consider the massive outpouring of volunteers to help clean the oil spill in Taean and the genuine concern shown about that eco-tragedy, there is great potential for Koreans to improve the situation through sheer willpower. We hope that this potential flourishes and helps make an environmental miracle.