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Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World by [Pendergrast, Mark]
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Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World Kindle Edition

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Japan's Tipping Point is a small book on a huge topic. In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the world. Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate? Mark Pendergrast arrived in Japan exactly two months after the Fukushima meltdown. This book is his eye-opening account of his trip and his alarming conclusions.

Japan is at a crucial tipping point. A developed country that must import all of its fossil fuel, it can no longer rely on nuclear power, following the massive earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. Critically acclaimed nonfiction writer Mark Pendergrast went to Japan to investigate Japan's renewable energy, Eco-Model Cities, food policy, recycling, and energy conservation, expecting to find innovative, cutting edge programs.

He discovered that he had been naive. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities. Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food. That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. But as Pendergrast documents, Japan lags far behind Europe, the United States, and even (in some respects) China in terms of renewable energy efforts. And Japan is mired in bureaucracy, political in-fighting, indecision, puffery, public apathy, and cultural attitudes that make rapid change difficult.

Yet Japan is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with friendly, resilient people who can, when motivated, pull together to accomplish incredible things.

As an island nation, Japan offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world.

Mark Pendergrast, the author of books such as For God, Country and Coca-Cola, Uncommon Grounds, and Inside the Outbreaks, entertains as he enlightens. As he wrote in Japan's Tipping Point: "The rest of this account might seem a strange combination of critical analysis, travelogue, absurdist non-fiction, and call to action. It might be called 'Mark’s Adventures in Japanland: Or, Apocalyptic Visions in a Noodle Shop.'"

About the Author

MARK PENDERGRAST is the author of four other nonfiction books: Mirror Mirror, Uncommon Grounds, Victims of Memory, and For God, Country & Coca-Cola.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1972 KB
  • Print Length: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Nature's Face Publications; 1 edition (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SWE074
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,056,032 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ee8db04) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff0300) out of 5 stars The Eco Challenges Facing Japan Oct. 19 2011
By David Hayes - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the eyes of the world were on Japan. In Mark Pendergrast's e-book, "Japan's Tipping Point," he makes the case for why attention should more broadly focus on the state of the island nation's overall environmental strategies. Japan is a tiny but developed country that imports all of its fossil fuels and has, at least until recently, merrily relied on nuclear power. Still, it has enjoyed a reputation for being a leader in environmentally innovative policies. (The much-hyped Eco-Model City program, for example.) But, as Pendergrast reveals, that reputation is at least partly smoke-and-mirrors. Its renewable energy initiatives lag behind Europe and North America and in some cases even China (an analogy that would be devestating to most Japanese). The story has no lack of strong characters, like Tetsunari Iida, the Ralph Nader of Japan's nuclear industry who heads the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and Naoto Kan, a former Prime Minister and born-again environmentalist who forced a reluctant government to introduce subsidies for wind, biomass, geothermal, solar hot water and micro-hydro development. In fact, Pendergrast believes Japan's main challenge lies in overcoming its own internal political & cultural shortcomings. Japan is important to us all, he writes, because it "is the proverbial canary in the coalmine. As an industrialized island nation, it is facing the same issues as the rest of the globe, only sooner and more urgently." A must-read for everyone interested in the daunting environmental issues facing the world.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f190660) out of 5 stars An important consideration of Japan's -- and the world's -- energy future Oct. 18 2011
By David Blittersdorf - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Mark Pendergrast's personable, accessible account of post-Fukushima Japan offers an excellent overview of the country's past and current industrial dilemmas, and illuminates the speed bumps slowing down what should be a rapid restructure of its national approach to energy. It also underscores Japan's importance as the proverbial coal-mine canary for the rest of the world, with regard to energy use and energy policy. For these reasons alone, Japan's Tipping Point is an important and topical book for everyone wondering how modern society at large will cope with the urgent need to reduce our crippling reliance on nuclear power and fossil fuels. But it's also a great read: Pendergrast combines systematic, investigative journalism with candid, boots-on-the-ground travelogue in equal measures, to great effect.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0177f8) out of 5 stars Surprising reasons for optimism May 23 2012
By Tony Levelle - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Japanese trains run to the minute, and the country's businesses pride themselves on energy-efficiency. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities. Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food. That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. Japan is at a crucial tipping point. As an island nation, it offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world." Mark Pendergrast, Tipping Point (Kindle Locations 65-69).

On May 5, 2012 Japan shut down the last of its 50 nuclear reactors after the Fukashima disaster.

Japan, like the rest of the world is at a tipping point: it can go renewable or continue on its fossil/nuclear path. Pendergrast traveled through post-Fukashima Japan to survey a wide range of small-scale renewable energy projects. Tipping Point is unflinching in looking at the political and economic obstacles facing each of these projects. As I read the book, I could not help thinking that Pendergrast had found and reported on dozens of real reasons for hope. Although none of the renewable energy projects was in itself a single 'magic bullet' to solve Japan's energy crisis, when combined they may offer a profound opportunity. If Japan chooses to go renewable, each of these small projects shows a proven way to implement a workable solution within the Japanese culture and political system.

Tipping Point is a important book about a subject of critical importance to the entire industrialized world. As I read it I couldn't help but think that Japan and the world was fortunate to have a gifted reporter like Pendergrast on the scene to report on these options, and assemble them into one, short readable book. Coincidentally, all the solutions that Pendergrast describes are equally valid in other industrial nations.

I found the book surprisingly optimistic because it shows what can work, and what has worked. The question now is, will Japan accept this challenge? Will we?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efe6558) out of 5 stars Decision Making In Japan Jan. 17 2012
By Maggie - Published on
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Pendergrast's new book, Japan at the Tipping Point, as a thoughtful and enjoyable blend of travelogue, scientific reporting, and astute observation of Japanese culture. The focus of this book is the need in the post-Fukushima era for strong leadership and clear decision making on the part of Japan's decision makers about not only the future development and regulation of the nuclear power industry in that country, but also the forward vision necessary to shape Japan's energy future. One of the most pressing issues for the Japanese is to decide what mix of technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, petroleum, and nuclear) will balance the energy needs of their island nation with the safety of her people, and what government policies should be put in place to shape a reliable energy grid that doesn't put people at risk from pollution and radiation. It is here that I fear that the Japanese will face their greatest difficulty.

No one in the technological and scientific worlds can fault the quality of Japanese engineering, which for the most part is second to none But the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was not purely the fault of its engineers. Pendergrast's book throws an embarrassing light on the decisions that were made by the plant's owners not to pay for and to put in place backup systems robust enough for the worst eventuality, and on the lax, conflicted and often contradictory muddle of government regulations that allowed the inevitable failure to occur. The Achilles' heel of Japanese culture has been summed up by the expression. "deru kugi wa, utareru", meaning, "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down". The popular meaning is, "don't be too different," and the deeper issue is that courage and strong leadership can be difficult goals for a people who have been raised in a culture that is suspicious of boldness. Innovation and clear vision are sorely needed now, and Pendergrast clearly shows that the biggest challenge for the government and the people of Japan now depends on the empowerment of a new generation of leaders, able to rise above the country's unstable politics and labyrinthine bureaucracy and willing to make decisions that may well require them to be the "sticking-up-nail."

Marylen Grigas and Lawrence Ribbecke
Burlington, Vermont
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ec6512c) out of 5 stars Japan Eco-travelog April 22 2012
By Mark Hem - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It has been several weeks since I've read Mark Pendergrast's book Tipping Point. I hope I can remember all of my thoughts while reading. This narrative spans a 6-week journey among major Japanese cities by the author in transit. He visits picturesque older habitats as well as harsher newer cities.
He emphasizes the several methods of energy conservation, generally underused, available to the Japanese. He also addresses the nuclear station meltdown following the tsunami several years ago.
This is a very worthwhile book. It is not a page-tuner. But a reporter's first-hand account ought not be. And it is an account of a nation with advanced technogies (some of which have gone wrong).