The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

In 2004, American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson released a novel entitled Forty Signs of Rain, which warned of the impact climate change would have in the early decades of the 21st century. In the story, the United States is struck by catastrophic flooding.

Two more novels—Fifty Degrees Below (2005) and Sixty Days and Counting (2007)— followed, completing what is now known as the Science in the Capital series, due to its focus on the challenge of getting lawmakers to take climate change seriously. In 2015, the trilogy was republished as a single volume: Green Earth. As a result of his themes, Robinson has become known as the “master of disaster.” Of course, his mastery is not of creating catastrophe but rather of placing warning signs of what’s to come.

ONE STEP BACK
Parts of our society seem determined to ignore the clear warnings of climate change, and I’ve grown dismayed at the rising volume of dissent. While researching my story on renewable electricity (page 30), I was surprised at how frequently I came across “climate change debunked” articles.

While science and observation paint a clear picture of increasing carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere, as well as rising temperatures and sea levels, measures put into place to mitigate the threat are being rolled back. Pair this with the findings of a study that was released while I was writing, one that suggests temperatures and sea levels may double previous estimates by 2100, and you have something that might shock even Robinson.

TWO STEPS FORWARD
Businesses, however, realize that a green Earth is a more profitable one, and I was heartened by what I discovered as I ex­plored the RE100 initiative.

For example, I did not realize that 16 Corporate Sustaining Member companies of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan are part of this group that aims for zero carbon and the use of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.

Seeing the forward-looking efforts these leading companies are making to save the planet gives me hope. Perhaps the calamities of Robinson’s story will never come to be, and we won’t be faced with a last-ditch effort to salvage what we can of a withering world. After all, healthy business depends on a healthy economy and healthy consumers.

In 2018, Robinson received the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society for his entire body of work. Perhaps in 2118, the companies of the RE100 will be recognized for their service to society.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.