Tag: Japan

Podcast 41: Energy utopia or dystopia? – A historical perspective on nuclear energy

Fukushima plant

Satellite image showing damage after an Earthquake and Tsunami at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant, Japan, 16 March 2011. Source: Wikimedia Commons

For the past decade nuclear energy has been increasingly promoted as a carbon neutral source of energy. By 2010 governments around the globe were seriously considering the construction of new power plants. The Japanese Tsunami of March 2011 threw a spanner in the works when the Fukushima One nuclear power plant was flooded destroying its cooling system. This resulted in a partial core meltdown, hydrogen explosions and venting of nuclear contaminated steam. The accident highlighted the potential hidden risks of nuclear technologies and fuelled fear of radiation and contamination of the environment with nuclear materials among the general public. It is also likely to stall the enthusiasm of a nuclear revival for the foreseeable future.

Considering past nuclear incidents it is doubtful if the Fukushima emergency will prevent the construction nuclear plants in the long run. On this episode of the podcast Horace Herring of the Open University in Britain will explore the utopian origins of nuclear energy and how it became a dystopian illusion. He argues that economics and distrust in science and big government undermined nuclear energy more than environmental or health concerns.

Literature cited
Horace Herring, From Energy Dreams to Nuclear Nightmares: Lessons for the 21st century from a previous nuclear era (Charlbury, Oxon: Jon Carpenter, 2005).

“Lessons from the past”, Nature, 471 (2011), p. 547.

Mark Peplow, “Chernobyl’s legacy”, Nature 471 (2011), pp. 562-565.

Music credit
LOVELESS” by Caster Seven
Available from ccMixter

Podcast 36: Island Environmental Histories: the Ogasawara Islands

Ogasawara Islands

Location of the Ogasawara Islands.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Islands are complex ecological objects produced through flows of flora, coral polyps, human migration, and global capital.  They are places that are constantly being changed through human and non-human action.  Therefore, they are wonderfully rich sites for environmental historians, not to mention cultural, economic, and historians of science, to examine.  They are less miniature worlds than they are places made by the convergence of worlds. In this podcast Colin Tyner, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, examines the Ogasawara Islands group and it environmental histories.

The Ogasawara Islands are situated one thousand kilometres south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. They were first settled in the 19th century and went through distinct phases of exploitation, military use and nature conservation during this period reflecting changing attitudes to the natural world. Colin will illustrate how different social, cultural and natural worlds converged on the Ogasawara Islands.

Blogs mentioned 
Colin Tyner, The Labour of Nature and Island Life
Place and Placelessness virtual workshop

Music credit
Aerofonia” by Mario Mattioli
Available from ccMixter

Literature cited
Anderson, Jennifer, “Nature’s Currency: The Atlantic Mahogany Trade and the Commodification of Nature in the 18th Century”, Early American Studies, 2:1 (Spring 2004).

MacArthur, Robert H., Edward O. Wilson, The Theory of Island Biogeography (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967).

Ponting, Clive, A green history of the world (London: Penguin, 1991).

Podcast 35: Mountains, the Asiatic Black Bear and conservation in Japan and New Zealand

The guest on this episode of Exploring Environmental History is Japanologist and environmental historian Cath Knight. In her spare time she maintains the blog Envirohistory NZ which explores the environmental history of New Zealand. On the podcast Cath briefly talks about the origins and topics of the blog before exploring her work on Japanese environmental history. She will discuss Japanese conservation history, in particular in relation to the Asiatic black bear and the conceptualisation of uplands and mountains in Japanese and Maori folklore. In many cultures, cosmologies define attitudes towards nature and the way that people interact with their environment. Cath also considers why the trajectory of Japanese conservation history is quite different from the European and North American perspective.

Blog mentioned 
Envirohistory NZ

Music credit
Time Decay ” by morgantj
Available from ccMixter


Please confirm, if you accept our tracking cookies. You can also decline the tracking, so you can continue to visit our website without any data sent to third party services.

Read our Privacy Policy for more information about the cookies used.