Planetary Citizenship

Planetary Citizenship
Your Values, Beliefs, and Actions Can Shape a Sustainable World

By Hazel Henderson and Daisaku Ikeda

ISBN 0-9723267-2-3

About the Book
About the Authors
Table of Contents
Chapter from Book

Two world-renowned global activists explore the rise of “grassroots globalists”—citizens all over the world who are taking responsibility to build a more peaceful, harmonious and sustainable future. The authors also discuss their own backgrounds and what led them individually to activism on a worldwide scale. At the same time, they provide encouragement and concrete information for the millions of other concerned citizens who want to make a difference.

A wide variety of issues that are now gaining greater recognition at all levels of society are explored, including sustainable development, economic justice, respect for indigenous peoples and their traditional lands and resources, democratizing politics and international institutions, making corporations accountable, and conserving the Earth’s biodiversity, water, air quality and climate.

Rather than dwell only on doom and gloom prophecies, Henderson and Ikeda embrace a practical yet profound optimism in human potential and our ability to build a brighter future. Arguing that a positive change of heart in one person can lead to a change in the world as a whole, they present compelling insights that will move and challenge the reader. By focusing on the spiritual values necessary to construct a better world, the two link complex global issues to ordinary people and assure us that we have the power to make a positive difference in our families, communities, countries and the world at large.

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Hazel Henderson is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, consultant on sustainable development, and author of Beyond Globalization, and seven other books translated in many languages. Her editorials appear in 27 languages and more than 400 newspapers syndicated by InterPress Service, Rome, New York, and Washington DC. Her articles have appeared in over 250 journals, including Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Challenge (in the USA). She created “Ethical Marketplace, a financial TV show, which features the best-managed, most socially responsible companies, the cleanest, greenest technologies to be licensed worldwide in 2004 (

She sits on several editorial boards, including Futures Research Quarterly, The State of the Future Report, WorldPaper, E/The Environmental Magazine (USA), Resurgence and Futures (UK). She is a Fellow of the World Business Academy and co-edited, with Harlan Cleveland and Inge Kaul, the Report of the Global Commission to Fund the United Nations. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Calvert Social Investment Fund and The New Economics Foundation (London, UK). She co-created with the Calvert Group, Inc.: the Calvert-Henderson Quality-of-Life Indicatorssm, updated at

In addition, she has been Regent's Lecturer at the University of California (Santa Barbara), held the Horace Albright Chair in Conservation at the University of California (Berkeley) holds many honorary degrees and advised the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment and the National Science Foundation from 1974 to 1980. She is an active member of the National Press Club (Washington DC), the Social Venture Network, and the World Futures Society (USA). Henderson also shared the 1996 Global Citizen Award with Nobelist A. Perez Esquivel of Argentina.

Daisaku Ikeda is one of the foremost interpreters of Buddhist philosophy in the world today. He has traveled to more than 50 countries conducting dialogues with political, cultural and intellectual leaders, actively applying his strong belief that international understanding and the realization of peace begins with heart-to-heart dialogue.

In 1975 he became president of the Soka Gakkai International, a Buddhist association with members (now) in 188 countries. He has defined the organization’s objectives as: “Working for peace by opposing all forms of violence and contributing to the welfare of humankind by pursuing humanistic culture and education.” Toward that end he has founded numerous international cultural institutes including the Toda Peace Institute, the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, the Institute for Oriental Philosophy and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. He also founded many non-sectarian schools (kindergarten through university level) and in May 2001, Soka University of America, a four-year liberal arts college, opened its doors in Aliso Viejo, California.

For his humanitarian endeavors in a range of fields he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award, the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the United Nations Peace Award among others.

He has written dozens of books, many of them dialogues, which have been translated into dozens of languages, including Before Its Too Late with Dr. Aurelio Peccei; A Lifelong Quest for Peace with Dr. Linus Pauling and Dialogue of World Citizens with Dr. Norman Cousins. Major books he has written include: Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, For the Sake of Peace, The Living Buddha, Soka Education, and The Way of Youth.

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“Planetary Citizenship is a delightful introduction to some of the most important ideas and facts concerning stewardship of the planet. I cannot think of any book that deals with more important issues.”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, California

“This extraordinary dialogue moves seamlessly between the personal and the profound, constantly weaving in years of practice, experience and insight. I not only learned a great deal in the presence of these two great wisdom teachers; I also grew clear about what it means to lead a life of dedication and devotion.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another, Utah

“These conversations are the language of life—a language of hope, a language that illumines the possibility of human existence compatible with the needs of our descendants. Reading this dialogue is like being guided along a path through greed and misconceptions to a decent and sustainable world.”
—Robert A. G. Monks, author of The New Global Investors, Maine

“Planetary Citizenship reveals a vital blueprint for a compassionate and sustainable world. Hazel Henderson and Daisaku Ikeda make a formidable team stepping forward as humanity’s guides in this great transition to the next stage of social evolution.”
—Barbara Marx Hubbard, president, The Foundation for Conscious Evolution, California

“Thank God for people like Hazel and Daisaku! Their ideas contain both the core ingredients of individual human fulfillment and the restoration of our planet as a whole.”
—Rosalind Copisarow, founder, Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, Birmingham, UK

“Using the latest in science and technology to shatter today’s economic paradigm of ‘insatiable individuals competing for scarce resources,’ Planetary Citizenship brings us full circle to the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples and the sacredness of creation.”
—Rebecca Adamson, president, First Nations Development Institute, Cherokee Nation, U.S.A.

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Introduction by Hazel Henderson
Chapter 1: A Life of Civic Action
Chapter 2: The University Called Human Life
Chapter 3: Saving the Mother of Life
Chapter 4: A New Economics
Chapter 5: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
Chapter 6: Revolutionizing Civilization
Chapter 7: A Technology To Benefit the Future
Chapter 8: The Earth Charter and Environmental Ethics
Chapter 9: The Century of Women
Chapter 10: The Win–Win Society

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from Planetary Citizenship
Revolutionizing Civilization

Peccei leads the way

IKEDA • Thirty years have passed since the Club of Rome’s “The Limits to Growth” report created its initial impact. It aroused extensive debate by proposing an annihilation scenario for our race and our planet. As a consequence, a movement to reexamine modern civilization took hold.

I first met Aurelio Peccei in May 1975, three years after the publication of the report. He was kind enough to call on me in Sceaux, in the suburbs of Paris, where I was visiting. Beneath his courteous and affable manner, I sensed his convictions of steel preserved from when he was a young man struggling against the fascists. When I got to know him, he was widely criticized as the prophet of doom. Some claimed his pessimistic forecast failed to take into consideration scientific-technological progress.

The oil-shock that occurred the very next year, however, made them take his warnings more seriously. Thus, “The Limits to Growth” became the first major step toward global concern with environmental problems. No one today denies this. Although many found the report too gloomy, I believe it performed a great service by highlighting the issue from a global viewpoint.

HENDERSON • I agree. “The Limits to Growth” overturned the conventional wisdom that gross national product was an adequate indicator of overall economic growth, since it ignored environmental depletion and pollution. This upset the scholarly world, which tried to bury the epoch-making report.

I admired Dr. Peccei tremendously. He was mayor of Rome when I first met him. His expansive vision impressed me deeply.

IKEDA • His message was that we must recognize the situation confronting us and act before time runs out.

He expressed his affinity with the SGI movement, saying that, ultimately, the reformation of human nature that he had long advocated requires what we in the SGI call the human revolution. Dr. Peccei’s pronouncements always reflected his custom of examining issues from the standpoint of the whole human race and his sense of responsibility for future generations. This made an indelible impression on me.

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Donella Medows’s village of one hundred people

HENDERSON • Actually I was familiar with its ideas before “The Limits to Growth” was published.

As you know, a group of MIT professors—Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows and Donella Meadows—were commissioned by the Club of Rome to compile the report. I interviewed this group before the report was issued. Their research was called the Limits to Growth Project. My work with Citizens for Clean Air made me realize that we humans were dealing with a much bigger problem than air pollution. Donella and Dennis Meadows were working with the global problem. My interview with them and Jay Forrester was published in The Futurist in 1971. The article introduced the fact that the MIT group was grappling on the global level with pollution, poverty, injustice and everything that we humans must understand if we are going to save ourselves from extinction.

IKEDA • Sadly, Donella Meadows died recently. Her importance is now being re-appreciated. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a certain e-mail message circulated all over the world and caused quite a stir. Titled “If the world were a village of one hundred people,” this thought-provoking, easy-to-understand analysis, published in book form even in Japan, made a big hit. It was originally written by Donella Meadows.

HENDERSON • Yes. Donella was another of my heroes. Because of my articles concerning her and the other members of the group, Dr. Peccei invited me to attend Limits to Growth meetings in Salzburg in 1973, Caracas, Berlin and again in Salzburg. These meetings produced a report called “No Limits to Learning” in 1979.

Although I never knew Dr. Peccei in a personal way—only in a sort of policy way at the meetings we attended together—I mourned his death, because he was a magnificent human being who saw things very clearly. He was one of those people from the future.

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Shifting to higher goals

IKEDA • The former Club of Rome president, Richard Diez-Hochleitner, described Dr. Peccei as a living flame. Certainly a profound concern for humanity and trust in and sense of responsibility for the human race burned bright in his heart. As is well known, though imprisoned and cruelly tortured by fascists during World War II, he never betrayed his comrades. He believed deeply in them and in all humanity. I saw him for the last time in June 1983, nine months before his death. Until the very end, he concerned himself earnestly with the future of humanity. He said that, although our external resources are limited, the inner wealth of humanity is boundless and the process of human revolution is the key to positive action leading to the adoption of a new course and the revival of human fortunes.1

HENDERSON • Wonderful words that are all the more interesting because they represent the conclusion of your dialogue with Dr. Peccei. Humanity’s current fixation on materialistic, GNP-measured economic growth obscured our higher path toward learning and toward our moral and spiritual growth. Shifting to higher human goals, social equity and quality of life is also the path to environmental sustainability and restoration.

IKEDA • Dr. Peccei and I were of one accord in believing that only a human revolution that reforms our views of the natural world, life and even our values has the power to alter human destiny.

“The Limits to Growth” is more than a warning signal. It inspires courage and hope by pointing out the necessity and the possibility of a fundamental reformation of humanity.

HENDERSON • Only the human revolution can reform our views of the natural world, life and values. We have the power to alter our destiny. This is very much my own view. It is really what my work for the last thirty years has been about.

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An economy based on spiritual growth

HENDERSON • As you say, three decades have passed since Dr. Peccei issued his warning; but, far from going away, the crisis is getting worse. How can we break the conventional wisdom that we can drive the economy forward only by destroying the environment and hurting people? One problem with the old way is its assumption that the totally materialistic GNP measures economic growth. We can grow in so many other dimensions. We can grow in wisdom, in intelligence and in knowledge. And we can run a very good economy based on cooperation and spiritual growth.

Happily, scientists have recently proved wrong the core theory of economics: that humans are selfish and compete to maximize their self-interest. Biologists have refuted this in their research on the hormone oxytocin, which is the basis of our ability to trust and bond with one another for mutual support.2

IKEDA • Healthy economics based on spiritual development—a highly important concept. In the twentieth century, human influence extended to outer space; but our inner development was shamefully neglected.

HENDERSON • Yes. Now that the economists have been defrocked, we can amplify the cooperative side of human nature. I always like to point to Austria as an example of an economy based on spiritual growth. In the nineteenth century, the Austrian economy depended on music. And the world has been enjoying that Austrian music ever since.

IKEDA • Austria’s high-quality “software” of culture to enrich the spirit is a good example of spiritual social abundance.

HENDERSON • And Japan’s social solidarity is a good example of a more cooperative economy. Many economists now agree we must abandon the materialistic “hardware” view and “de-materialize” the GNP in the direction of spiritual and intellectual growth. That’s what I’ve been trying to do by means of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. They are now updated regularly at

These new indicators for the United States honor the unpaid work in society: caring, sharing, volunteering, nurturing others. They measure health, education, human rights, infrastructure, the building of community and valuing and protecting the environment.

IKEDA • That’s what you called the “love economy.” As you say, changing society means we absolutely must reexamine the basic meaning of affluence and alter the scale by which we measure it.

Changing our scale completely alters the way we see the world. If, as Donella Meadows posited, earth were a village with one hundred inhabitants, 59 percent of its wealth would be in the hands of a mere six people. Only one person would have a college education, and only two would own a computer. Viewing the state of the world in this way clearly reveals the inequalities we must face.

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The real “axis” of evil

HENDERSON • Yes, we must rethink our own position and those of the others with whom we share the planet in order to build peace in the world. The real “axis of evil” we must overcome consists of poverty, ignorance, disease and violence.

IKEDA • To continue with the metaphor, twenty of the hundred people in the global village would account for 80 percent of all energy consumption, thereby leaving only 20 percent for the remaining eighty people. Energy, one of our gravest concerns, interrelates with such other issues as the environment, population, food and the gap between the rich and the poor. You’ve described our current state of affairs in a forthright fashion. In less than three hundred years, humanity will have depleted the fossilized sources of energy—petroleum, coal and natural gas—that took sixty million years to accumulate.

Data varies as to how much fossil fuel remains. No matter what the figures, however, if we do not change our lifestyles, the mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal endemic to modern civilization will exhaust them all in less than several hundred years.

HENDERSON • Yes, the energy situation is crucial. As a short-term policy, we must improve the efficiency with which we use fossil fuels. We can make power plants more efficient using cogeneration techniques—such as recycling steam that would otherwise be wasted to heat nearby facilities. But, basically, we have to make a switch from fossil fuels. Natural gas is the transition fuel, but it is already becoming scarce. The nuclear and fossil-fuel industries are making a last stand. They are still powerful vested interests.

In many ways, “energy crisis” is a misnomer for what is happening in the United States. There is no real energy crisis here. The critical situation is brought on by our inability to conserve energy. We waste so much energy that, as studies show, improving efficiency would be far less expensive than building more power plants. Yet in 2003, the U.S. Congress produced an energy bill that would hamper such progress and continue subsidizing the fossil-fuel economy and nuclear energy.

IKEDA • Some reports claim that energy efficiency in the United States is less than 10 percent.

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Contagious exhaustion

• More efficient automobiles, refrigerators, air conditioners and buildings would be a quick way to achieve results. Laws should be tightened to enforce these changes. Japan’s low-pollution hybrid cars that get more than 50 miles to the gallon are rapidly gaining favor in the U.S. market. It takes three or four years to build a power plant. It would take ten years to get petroleum out of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. But new technologies like hybrid cars, combined with legal measures, can take effect much faster.

The falling U.S. dollar may also force U.S. consumers to conserve energy and import less, since the United States is already the world’s largest debtor.3

IKEDA • From the standpoint of the burden on the environment, increased efficiency is just as important as, or even more important than, energy production. German statesman and Club of Rome member Ernest Ulrich von Weizsäcker has said that our society is the victim of contagious exhaustion. The problem cannot be solved unless we overcome the modern social tendency to waste resources and waste our lives.

HENDERSON • He and his wife, Christine, a biologist, have done outstanding work on energy, climate change and biotechnology issues. I am proud that they wrote a foreword to the German edition of my book The Politics of the Solar Age. Individuals as well as large organizations can help save energy and reduce pollution by simply turning up their thermostats in summer, turning them down in winter, and wearing more sweaters.

IKEDA • Conservation not only assists nations in dealing with energy and environmental problems but also helps households make ends meet. In 2001, the British Ministry of the Environment suggested boiling only the amount of water needed—not a kettleful—for each cup of tea or coffee. That would save about 90 seconds of heating each time. Adhering to this policy for a week would save enough energy to light a normal house for a day or operate a television set for twenty-six hours.

In addition to such conservation, we require technological reforms and the application of all our wisdom to improve energy-consumption efficiency. In the past, businesses have regarded environmental considerations as burdens. They can no longer do so.

Japanese consumers seem to like the low-pollution hybrid car you mentioned. This suggests that environmental considerations afford business a big opportunity rather than involving only extra costs.

At one time, nuclear energy was touted as a replacement for petroleum. What are your thoughts on the current situation with nuclear energy?

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Nuclear deceit

HENDERSON • The nuclear-energy people are rushing in, advertising that nuclear energy is clean and nonpolluting. They are very deceitful. The storage of radioactive nuclear wastes is reaching crisis proportions. Furthermore, nuclear energy could not compete in price if it were not for the Price-Anderson Act, which was renewed by U.S. President George Bush. It shifts liability for nuclear accidents to U.S. taxpayers.

IKEDA • Three Mile Island and Chernobyl destroyed the myth of nuclear safety, thus inspiring Germany and other nations to steer away from the nuclear option. In Japan, in 1999, two deaths at a uranium processing plant at Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture put a damper on the building of new nuclear facilities. What’s more, no fundamental ways for dealing with nuclear waste have been developed.

HENDERSON • No, they have not. Nor has the question of safety been dealt with adequately. From my point of view, we must continue opposing further development of nuclear energy. It’s the wrong technology. It was a hangover from World War II. The nuclear industry persuaded President Eisenhower that nuclear energy would be atoms for peace. They claimed that, in the United States, electricity would become too cheap to bother with metering. Yet nuclear power plants turned out to be the most expensive of all. In California, where energy costs are extremely high, nuclear power can be said to be cheaper. But the long-term costs are still uncounted, and the dangers are unacceptable. If economists ever account properly for long-term costs, it would become apparent that nuclear power is not cheap.

IKEDA • The greatest cost is incurred by dealing with nuclear waste. Although it may save natural resources and reduce global warming, nuclear energy generation entails the danger of long-term radiation pollution. We cannot afford to postpone the search for a fundamental solution to the energy problem.

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Loving the sun

IKEDA • Where are we to turn for new energy sources? You advocate a transition from a petroleum age to an age of light and sunshine. What precisely do you mean?

HENDERSON • I wrote about a future solar and hydrogen economy in 1981 in The Politics of the Solar Age: Alternatives to Economics. The vision of an age of light inspired me and came from deep in my intuition. Instead of being taught, I had to teach myself about wind power, solar power, hydrogen fuel cells, tidal power, geothermal power and biomass from work at the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. From my American Indian friends, I learned of their deep knowledge of the sun, the wind, the land, plants and animals and the proper role of humans as part of Nature’s creation. I knew that we industrial people would need to re-learn from their ancient wisdom.

IKEDA • Perhaps your idea of an age of light and sunshine can be summarized in this way: Fossil fuels stored in the earth from the very remote past will be exhausted in the next several hundred years. To deal with this, we must shift from a society that wastes those fuels to a society based on renewable energy sources. Until now human culture has striven to be independent of nature. It must now seriously recognize the mutual connections between humanity and nature. We must return to the ancient appreciation of the earth as the Great Mother. There is much to learn from the past, including equality and cooperation between the sexes. You insist on a necessary paradigm shift or transition to an age of true symbiosis.

HENDERSON • Yes. I love the sun because it is the source of all life. Plants couldn’t grow without it. In our discussions, technologists at the Office of Technology Assessment often asked me, “What percentage of the heat for your house can come from solar energy?” I would reply that, if the sun did not preheat the house, its temperature would be –400 degrees Fahrenheit.

IKEDA • Warmth does indeed begin with the sun. Furthermore, petroleum and natural gas are, in effect, stored solar energy from the distant past.

HENDERSON • The sun is the mother star for the earth and, without it, nothing can survive even one day—it is really the Mother Sun. This metaphor is directly understandable to ordinary people, but academics cloud it with their wrong theories. From my reading of Soka Gakkai history, I learn that your founder, Mr. Makiguchi, taught that false theories and doctrines could lead the people astray.

IKEDA • Yes, he did. Wrong ideas fundamentally warp society. He therefore taught that, to change society, we must rectify our way of thinking. Nichiren’s ideas about the relationship between a correct teaching and a peaceful land provide a philosophical foundation for us. Mr. Makiguchi argued that mistaken Shinto thought was driving Japan to war and destruction. For saying such things, the authorities, who were leading the nation into militarism, threw him into prison, where he subsequently died.

Our primary emphasis—education founded on true humanism—arises from that history. As education brings out the good aspects of humanity and society, it can also bring out the bad aspects.

But, to return to the energy issue, you enumerate several possible alternative sources: wind power, solar power, hydrogen, fuel cells, tidal power, geothermal power and biomass. Which of them is most promising?

HENDERSON • I believe that hydrogen—made using solar and wind power—and other renewable energy sources will become the preferred fuels for transportation and other sectors in the future.

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High hopes for hydrogen

IKEDA • Surely many people have high hopes for hydrogen fuel cells, just as for solar cells, which, put simply, employ the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity—clean electrical devices. All of the many types of these cells produce nothing but water as a waste product. In other words, they arouse no concern over the carbon dioxide that is a contributing factor in global warming. The process involved is the reverse of the high-school chemistry experiment that runs an electric current through water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.

The idea is not new. The nineteenth-century English physicist Sir William Robert Grove discovered it in 1839, before electricity was put to use. U.S. researchers studied it seriously in the 1960s in connection with developing electrical source devices for satellites.

Now it is being applied in many parts of the world in automobile engines, domestic electric generators, heaters, water heaters and many other areas. Blessed with plenty of geothermal and water power, Iceland claims that it will shift to hydrogen and reduce consumption of fossil fuels like petroleum and coal to zero in the next twenty or thirty years.

Japan began testing an auto equipped with a hydrogen cell on public roads. It aims, within a few years, to put the auto to practical use. At present, cost and safety problems connected with cell systems and with hydrogen supply persist.

HENDERSON • The introduction of hydrogen fuel cells will occur as soon as countries find the political will to stop subsidizing fossil-fuel and nuclear industries. In the United States, the Bush administration now supports hydrogen but still also subsidizes coal, oil and nuclear. In many other countries, these industries finance political campaigns and so still have a stranglehold on governments.

IKEDA • For better or worse, the energy problem to a large extent depends on political will, which in turn is driven by popular will. We must scrupulously investigate whether politics is directed toward the benefit of local people, the peoples of the world and future generations or toward the interests of specific industries. Apparently government leaders in some countries are rapidly introducing things like solar- and wind-powered generators. Which are most successful at implementing programs of renewable energy?

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Endowment and enlightenment

HENDERSON • Those countries with the best natural endowments and the best policies—Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and Portugal—employ wind power.

IKEDA • I understand that Poul La Cour, who is known as the Danish Edison, began using wind energy to generate electricity as early as 1891. The Swedish, too, use generators powered entirely by the wind.

HENDERSON • Lester Brown, founder of Worldwatch Institute, says in Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth that the Midwestern United States could potentially harness as much energy from the wind as from OPEC’s oil.

IKEDA • In Japan, on Hokkaido and elsewhere, wind-power generators are increasingly popular.

HENDERSON • Beside wind power, the Brazilians also use both solar power and hydropower. There are many solar-powered facilities in Florida, but the state is still dominated by the fossil-fuel and nuclear industries. Maine has the possibility of huge tidal power, the use of which Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated. Ocean currents in many parts of the world can also be harnessed with underwater turbines to produce electrical power with less impact than dams. But it is not enough for a country to have good natural endowments; it must also have highly enlightened policies. With those two things together, the transition can happen.

IKEDA • I agree entirely. In global capitalism, minimum government is considered best. The issue, however, is not the extent of a government but its vision.

Fluctuations in petroleum prices seem to control the will to conserve energy and develop new sources.

HENDERSON • Yes. The fact that Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Middle East have too much oil for their own good proved to be a minus. Because oil was cheap and easy to get at, they never did anything about their enormous potential for solar energy. Oil became a substitute for thought. Because of its dearth of natural resources, Japan has developed less wasteful, more efficient technologies.

IKEDA • That’s true. Japan consistently occupies a high rank among the industrialized nations for energy-use efficiency and for industrial-waste recycling.

To the concern of many, the United States withdrew from the Kyoto Accord, which attempts to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions.

HENDERSON • Yes, very regrettably. It is most encouraging, however, as I read in a recent UN report, even after the United States and subsequently Russia pulled out of the Kyoto Accord, the other signatory nations went straight ahead promoting solar and renewable energy. They realize that whether the United States and Russia join in or not is immaterial. Greater energy efficiency and sustainability are good ideas for all of them, even if some countries don’t yet understand this. So I think that Europe will begin to move faster. Already, the giant insurance company Swiss Re has committed to reducing its carbon emissions, as have other companies. The idea is certainly alive with the new government of President “Lula” da Silva in Brazil, where I have been active, as well as in other Latin American countries and in Australia. There is a “green” government in New Zealand now headed by Prime Minister Helen Clark. President Chen Shuei Bian of Taiwan envisions his country as the “Green Silicon Island.”

IKEDA • Each country should implement such good ideas. They should set an example for countries where protecting industry is considered more important than protecting the environment and try to find clues for policy changes. This becomes even more important when we remember that we are racing against time.

HENDERSON • Subsidies are the key for transitioning to clean energy in each nation. Annually some trillion dollars in perverse subsidies go to encourage the use of coal, oil, nuclear energy and wasteful industries and infrastructure. It may be unnecessary to subsidize new energy sources if the subsidies for old ones were eliminated, as they should certainly be! This would permit new technologies to compete on a level playing field. In some cases, subsidies as well as investments will be needed to kick-start developments in hydrogen, fuel cells and solar energy. Wind power, on the other hand, is already fully competitive and steadily growing more popular.

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The tax shift

IKEDA • Once, when you were asked what policies you would adopt if you were president, after mentioning education, you said you would revise the tax system to cut subsidies for old-energy industries.

HENDERSON • Yes, tax shifting is very important. Right now we tax all the wrong things. We grant oil companies depletion allowances when we should impose depletion taxes. Our current course is completely backward. The tax shift I’ve been promoting for many years would remove the tax from incomes and payrolls: we want full employment. The government’s overall revenues would remain unchanged, but taxes would be imposed on the use and waste of natural resources. This would correct pricing because adding costs to prices would ensure that heavily polluting products are more expensive. So consumers would buy fewer polluting products. I have advocated such “green” taxes since 1989, pointing to the example of Europe.

IKEDA • A very good idea. Remove inappropriate subsidies and the tax shift would become a mainstay in efforts to reform society from a wasteful to a circulative model. Europe is taking the lead in the tax shift. Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden already impose a so-called carbon tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.

It is said that a nation’s society finds expression in its tax system. In the past, tax systems in various countries have put too little emphasis on caring for the environment and too heavy a burden on taxing payrolls and incomes.

HENDERSON • Another policy that would speed things along is for joint ventures to implement green technologies. For example, my Chinese colleagues are working on many levels to license cleaner green technologies. Helping them succeed quickly would be to everybody’s advantage. China is in fact making environmental management and energy efficiency pillars of their new economy. The city of Shanghai is spending $2 billion to clean up pollution.

IKEDA • That’s very encouraging. I understand that in recent efforts to make China the “Recycling Plant of the World,” the government has designated five cities, including Tianjin and Shanghai, as recycling cities and plans to integrate its recycling plants.

We must look upon solving the environmental and energy problems not as a burden but as a frontier challenge as we embark on building a civilization of harmonious symbiosis between human beings and nature and among human beings.

The economist Lester Thurow, whom we have discussed, says that economic growth and protection of the environment are consistent. He adds that technology, far from being a threat to the environment, can actually save it.

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