Talk about Anthropocene and Transition Town at the Kagoshima University Symposium (Kazuhiko Ota, Project Researcher)

FEAST HQ Conference and Symposium, Report, WG2

An industry-academia-government collaborative symposium “Think about how to live the future of Kagoshima – the ecological theory in the Anthropocene –” (English title is not official) was held at Korimoto Campus of Kagoshima University on July 6th, 2019 where I was given an opportunity to introduce about Anthropocene and Transition Town. The participants included the students from the Faculty of Law at Kagoshima University and many citizens who were interested in the topic.

You might have already heard of or seen the term “Anthropocene” as in the sub-title of the symposium somewhere, maybe at some events of RIHN. It refers to a geological epoch – the environmental transformation caused by human activities such as agriculture and the Industrial Revolution, which is comparable to an asteroid crash or a large-scale violent volcanic eruption. In particular, the “Great Acceleration” or the drastic expansion of human activities starting from the second half of the 20th Century has been sharply aggravating various problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, excessive nitrogen and phosphorous, oceanic pollution by micro plastic among many others.

Development of new technologies does not suffice as a solution to alleviate or adapt to this epoch. Comprehensive view and plan are a necessity, which should include national and local policies, participation of corporates and citizens, and balancing between economic activities and policies. At this symposium, Prof. Kazunoti Kondo provided the overview of the Anthropocene and Prof. Kouta Kanno summarized about trans-science, which was followed by a panel discussion with the discussants from various fields including myself. Ms. Tomomi Mori from the Environmental Policy Division of the Kagoshima City Office talked about Kagoshima City’s global warming countermeasures “Cool Choice”, Mr. Ryohei Ichimura, planning director, showcased some examples of community designing and Mr. Daisuke Oku from Limited Liability Company Diversity introduced the recent development of recycling technologies.

At this panel discussion, I introduced the concept and efforts of “Transition Town” as one of approaches of community building in the Anthropocene. Transition Town is a civic movement taking place across the world focusing on “breaking addiction”. Their efforts aim to build communities that are able to locally procure and supply food and energy, provide maintenance and repair of housing and infrastructure, and healthcare and nursing care without depending on oil fuel and/or corporates. However, it does not mean to be completely self-sufficient, but they would rather set out to “plug the leaks of a bucket” so that money would not leak away from local economy unnecessarily.

My talk evolved around the case study from Totness in England where Transition Town was originated. Registered Charity Organization “Transition Town Totness” working in Totness has estimated the economic effects of “plugging the leaks” of a leaky bucket based on a wide range of data and published a report. FEAST Project translated the report into Japanese which you can download from the link below – with the generous permission from Transition Town Totness.

(Translated by Yuko K.)

Japanese translation of “Totnes& District Local Economic Blueprint”

The Original Report “Totnes&District Local Economic Blueprint”

(Photo: Kouta Kanno)

(Photo: Kouta Kanno)

(Photo: Kouta Kanno)