Post #4: Environmental Issues Affect South Korea, too

The future of the world, which is currently experiencing a serve decline in many ways due to climate change (as evidenced by the 70-degree days Missouri has seen in February), requires change to come from the top-down. Even during the civil rights movement, while people were protesting and making small-scale changes in their own personal business, there was no formal trend towards integration until the government stepped in and made change happen. In this same way, positive actions towards climate change require the government to intervene and legislate in ways that will have future positive impacts on the environment.

However, the current biggest obstacle Americans are facing in regards to positive climate change actions stems from its president. Donald Trump does not share views on the environment with the rest of the United States, refusing to acknowledge climate change is real. He is focused more on providing what he calls a business-first agenda which prioritizes the wants and needs of businesses over the future of our climate. While the rest of the world leaders are signing pledges like the Paris Agreement, Trump wants to withdraw the United States from these kind of actions. There used to exist a consensus by the world leaders (or a majority) about the actions needing to be taken to combat climate change, but Trump withdrawing the US from these ideas signals a shift by one of the world’s leading polluters away from pro-environmental policy.

While Water.Org is not active in South Korea currently, it operates in five other Asian countries.

One of the largest environmental problems plaguing South Koreans is heavily polluted air. In the 2016 EPI, South Korea ranked 173/180 in air quality. The air pollution comes from two different areas, one being ambient ozone pollution and the other ambient particulate matter pollution. Many South Korean media outlets have been unfairly blaming China as the source of the air pollution it is experiencing. In reality, Greenpeace says that up to 70% of South Korea’s pollution issues are homegrown, but it has not backed up these charges with formal figures.

South Korea relies on coal plants and diesel fuel to run its country, and that has a significant impact on the air quality. To get a truthful view of the source of South Korean air pollution, one has to look outside South Korean publications who trend towards blaming China wholly. NPR states, “The South Korean president calls the country’s poor air quality ‘a grave issue.’ But little beyond warning people to be careful has been done to address it. The levels of particulate matter in Seoul’s air have stayed stubbornly steady in recent years.”

While the government does warn its people when the air outside is too dangerous to breathe, the air pollution levels have remained relatively constant in the past few years. South Korea is reluctant to move away from such a high reliance on fossil fuels, and is investing in more coal plants in years to come. These plants continuously worsen the environment, but are heavily favored by the government.

 

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