Overcoming Disaster and Conflict by Developing Renewable Energy

2018-04-25 Academic

Why energy conversion? Why renewable energy?

On Thursday, March 29, in the Main Conference Room of the University Administrative Building (UAB), a colloquium was organized under the title, “Sustainable Future City & Happiness I.” The lecture was delivered by Professor Peter Schmuck from University of G?ttingen, Germany. Professors Irina Bokova, Miwon Chair Professor and Honorary Rector of Humanitas College (former UNESCO Director-General), Jae-won Cho of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and Jong-ho Hong of Seoul National University (SNU) also joined as panelists.

Professor Schmuck began his lecture by imploring, “Humans look to the future, which is why we are able to evolve constructively, and pursue happiness while building a sustainable future. We must grow into a society that respects all lives, makes healthy choices, and takes steps to make social transformation.”

“We need to think on a global scale”
Currently, there are over 140 renewable communities in Germany, with another 40 villages preparing to make the transition. Alheim, for example, is a model renewable energy town, where it supplies more than 100% of the community’s energy consumption and electric vehicles are operating for free.

In this town, solar energy industry has created 250 new jobs. Firstly, management, training and promotional activities are autonomously carried out through a co-op. Secondly, the youth and the elderly collaborate to produce environmentally-friendly foods. As a result, residents are utilizing renewable energy to redefine themselves in this ‘well-being community,’ dedicated to improving themselves, their society and even their environment.

Professor Schmuck published a research paper based on his interviews of 17 mayors in renewable energy cities; the findings were remarkable. “The elderly who actively participate in addressing social issues are more alert than those who do not. Teens who take great interest in social issues live a healthier life than those who do not. People who are active in volunteering are healthier, and those who live simple lives are able to enjoy a healthier life.”

“There is an urgent need to transform how we perceive energy”
Here in Korea, studies on renewable energy are also underway. Professor Jae-won Cho has been awarded 10 billion KRW from the Ministry of Science & ICT (MSIP) until 2022 to implement the “Science Cabin Project,” in which Professor Cho will explore ways to recycle and harvest energy from human organic waste collected by environmentally-friendly toilets. Professor Cho described the motivation for the project and said, “Through this project, I hope to deliver the message that ‘value is derived from humans.’ Humankind’s happiness comes from creating a sustainable future society.”

Professor Jong-ho Hong stressed, “Korea has long been focused on developing nuclear and fossil fuel energy for over 40 years. We need a change in perspective in government, among experts, businesses, and the media, so that we can collectively seek solutions for a sustainable future.”

Professor Irina Bokova exhorted, “If we ignore renewable energy, we will face disasters, such as rising sea level and climate change, which will give rise to conflicts and climate refugees. We must expand the base of renewable energy through environment education.”

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