BY AWAKE! WRITER IN JAPAN
THAT theme rang out from Aichi, Japan, the venue for Expo 2005, in which 121 countries participated. Visitors were encouraged to learn from nature and to “make serious efforts to discover paths to sustainable growth.” Located near Nagoya, in central Japan, the exposition site featured forests, ponds, and flowers. A unique attraction was a 1.6-mile- [2.6 km]long elevated walkway called the Global Loop. Almost 70 feet [21 m] wide, it afforded panoramic views, while at the same time preserving the natural beauty below.
At One With Nature
Resembling a massive cocoon, a woven bamboo outer “skin” made up of 23,000 lengths of bamboo covered the Japan pavilion, shielding it from the sun’s heat. The bamboo stems averaged 23 feet [7 m] in length, and the building measured 62 feet [19 m] high, 295 feet [90 m] wide, and 230 feet [70 m] deep, making it one of the largest bamboo structures in the world. The pavilion featured a 360-degree spherical video-imaging system. Inside the 42-foot [12.8 m] diameter sphere and completely surrounded by moving images, visitors could savor the sensation of being at one, so to speak, with the earth and its abundance of life.
Using multimedia displays, the Malaysia pavilion portrayed that country’s rain forests and coral reefs. In the Thailand pavilion, heartrending scenes of the December 26, 2004, tsunami reminded viewers that “man is not the master of nature.” Pointing to the specter of extinction, the South Africa exhibit featured the replica of a quagga foal, a zebralike mammal that roamed the plains of southern Africa until it was hunted to extinction in the 19th century.
In a refrigerated display adjacent to the Expo’s theme pavilion were the remains of a mammoth unearthed in the permafrost of Siberia, Russia, in 2002. Named the Yukagir Mammoth, after its discovery site, this example of an extinct species of elephant had two huge, curved tusks, and its eyes were partially open. Its head was still covered with skin and tufts of hair. An amazing specimen, the mammoth served as another poignant reminder of extinction.
A Better Future?
How can humans deal with threats to the future of our planet, such as pollution and global warming? Described as “the symbol of Expo 2005,” a massive “green” wall—called Bio-Lung—stood 490 feet [150 m] long and up to 50 feet [15 m] high. The wall was made up of 200,000 plants of 200 species, including flowers. It was suggested that a number of such “lungs,” which can be seasonally adjusted, could serve as a city’s respiratory organ and air filter, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
The Expo also featured transportation that included hybrid buses powered by electricity. As these vehicles shuttled people about, the only emission from their exhausts was water. Another treat for technology lovers was Japan’s first commercially operated maglev linear train, named Linimo. Using powerful magnets, Linimo rode quietly and smoothly about a quarter of an inch [8 mm] above its rails. Also on display were battery-powered trams, bicycle taxis, and buslike vehicles that could operate with or without drivers. Speeding along in two’s or three’s, these futuristic vehicles used natural gas, which is cleaner than regular fuels.
Imagine turning organic waste, such as food garbage, into electricity and fertilizer. An energy plant at the site used a process called methane fermentation to do just that. Instead of incinerating garbage, the plant fermented it and turned it into methane gas, from which hydrogen was extracted. Fuel cells, which use chemical reactions to create electricity, oxidized the hydrogen to generate electricity. The by-products were water and fertilizer. In fact, the plant processed all the organic waste produced at the Expo, and the resulting electricity powered some of the pavilions.
Considerable research is being done in the field of robotics, with the goal of producing lightweight machines capable of serving as personal assistants to humans. Demonstrating some of the advances in robot technology, seven robots walked to center stage in one pavilion and drew in the crowds with music. Some played wind instruments, their “fingers” nimbly working the keys, while another played the drums. “Their movements were so smooth and agile that they could have passed for humans in disguise,” said an observer.
Two other high-tech inventions were biodegradable plastics made from cornstarch and similar products and nanobubbles—tiny gas bubbles less than 200 nanometers in diameter. A human hair is about 50,000 nanometers in diameter. Such tiny bubbles are normally very unstable and quickly disappear. Researchers in Japan, however, have developed technology for producing stable nanobubbles of oxygen, which enhance “the ability of fish and shellfish to adapt to environmental changes.” In fact, an aquarium saturated with nanobubbles of oxygen was able to accommodate certain species of both freshwater and saltwater fish! Researchers hope to find applications of this new technology in fish farming, agriculture, and other areas.
Is the World Listening?
Although the Expo stressed the need to listen to “nature’s wisdom,” by and large, the world is not giving ear. The voices of ignorance, greed, and corruption are drowning out opposing voices. As a result, the earth has become “the Wounded Planet,” as stated at one exhibit. But even the well intentioned have no reliable answers to mankind’s problems and the earth’s ecological woes. According to the Bible, these answers are beyond the scope of human knowledge and wisdom. (Jeremiah 10:23) Yet, the situation is far from hopeless. How so?
The Bible tells us that the very highest Source of wisdom—our Creator—will intervene in earth’s affairs before humans ruin his handiwork. (Revelation 4:11; 11:18) “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace,” says Psalm 37:10, 11. True, we are wise to listen to nature, but we are much wiser to listen to the Creator by reading and applying his Word, the Holy Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16) All who do so will see our ailing planet thoroughly healed and transformed into a paradise.—Luke 23:43.
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The 360-degree spherical video-imaging system
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The Bio-Lung was made up of 200,000 plants of 200 species
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Robots entertained the audience with music